The Brossasco-Isasca Unit (BIU) of the southern Dora-Maira Massif (DMM), Western Alps, is one of the most studied ultra-high pressure (UHP) units in the world. However, the interpretation of UHP metamorphism in the BIU is still a highly debated and challenging issue. The structural and tectonometamorphic setting of the southern DMM is described in the literature as a tectonic “sandwich”, with the UHP unit in the middle, bounded by two high-pressure (HP) eclogitic units in the footwall (the San Chiaffredo Unit, SCU) and hanging wall (the Rocca Solei Unit, RSU), respectively. These three units are in turn sandwiched between two blueschist-facies units (the Pinerolo Unit, PU, at the bottom, and the Dronero-Sampeyre Unit, DSU, at the top). In contrast to the well-constrained P–T evolution of the BIU, peak P–T conditions for its bounding HP units are poorly constrained, most studies dating back to over 20 years ago and mostly relying on conventional thermobarometric methods. This study aims to update our knowledge about the P–T evolution experienced by the whole tectonometamorphic package of the southern DMM. For the first time, peak P–T conditions and prograde evolution for the five units (PU, SCU, BIU, RSU, DSU) forming the southern DMM tectonic “sandwich” are estimated using the same, internally consistent and therefore comparable, modern thermobarometric approaches. The study focuses on metapelites (i.e., garnet-bearing phengitic micaschists) and combines multi-equilibrium thermobarometry (Average PT) with the P–T pseudosection approach. Our results demonstrate that most of the southern DMM nappe stack (i.e., SCU, RSU and also the PU, that was originally considered as a blueschist-facies unit) experienced eclogite-facies metamorphism under similar peak P–T conditions (500–520 °C, 20–24 kbar), and followed the same prograde path, suggesting similar burial mechanisms. The UHP BIU followed an early prograde evolution similar to that of the other eclogitic units of the southern DMM tectonic “sandwich”. The attainment of UHP peak conditions occurred through an earlier steep, almost isothermal increase in pressure and a later increase in temperature. The DSU is the only unit of the southern DMM nappe stack that did not experience eclogite-facies metamorphism (peak metamorphism at blueschist-facies conditions: 450–470 °C, 17–18 kbar) and it is separated from the eclogitic units by a shear zone (the Valmala Shear Zone), whose interpretation requires further studies. These new data represent the inescapable starting point for any conceptual model aiming for a deeper understanding of the subduction/exhumation processes of UHP continental units.
What’s in the sandwich? New P–T constraints for the (U)HP nappe stack of southern Dora-Maira Massif (Western Alps)
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Chiara Groppo, Simona Ferrando, Manuele Gilio, Serena Botta, Francesco Nosenzo, Gianni Balestro, Andrea Festa, Franco Rolfo; What’s in the sandwich? New P–T constraints for the (U)HP nappe stack of southern Dora-Maira Massif (Western Alps). European Journal of Mineralogy doi: https://doi.org/10.1127/ejm/2019/0031-2860
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