The Chinese drillhole CCSD-PP2 penetrated to a depth of 1028.28 m near Donghai in the southwestern Sulu terrane. Core samples consist mainly of para- and orthogneisses with minor intercalated layers of amphibolite and eclogite. Coesite and coesite-bearing ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) mineral assemblages were identified using Raman spectroscopy and electron microprobe analysis as inclusions in zircon separates from para- and orthogneiss samples. Matrix minerals in the coesite-bearing para- and orthogneiss samples are amphibolite-facies assemblages of quartz + feldspar + epidote + biotite ± amphibole ± garnet ± titanite. In most cases, zircons, however, preserve multi-stage assemblages in different domains; the parageneses and compositions of these included minerals yielded P-T paths consistent with those deduced previously from eclogite and garnet peridotite outcrops in Donghai.
In generally, quartz inclusions were identified in zircon cores and rims, whereas coesite and other UHP mineral inclusions occur in the mantles (intermediate zircon growth zone between core and rim) of the same zircons. The occurrence of coesite inclusions in zircon indicates that eclogites together with their country rock gneisses experienced UHP metamorphism and retrogression. Coesite inclusions are ubiquitous in paragneiss and orthogneiss core samples in CCSD-PP2 drillhole and in outcrop samples from the southwestern Sulu terrane, indicating that coesite-bearing lithologies are widespread in the Sulu terrane, requiring subduction of a large terrane to mantle depths.
Cathodoluminescence images of zircons from gneissic rocks display distinct zoning from core to rim, that can be genetically correlated with inherited (especially in the orthogneisses) or prograde, UHP, and retrograde mineral inclusion assemblages. These images reveal irregular zoning patterns and various thickness of cores, mantles, and rims. The abundance of inclusions complicates conventional U-Pb age dating, therefore the SHRIMP microspot U-Pb analyses are essential for protolith and metamorphic age dating.