Abstract

Lawsonite eclogites are rare rocks and have been described from only a few localities in the world. Lawsonite-bearing assemblages are highly unstable and physico-chemical processes linked to exhumation may destroy them; only aggregates interpreted as pseudomorphs after lawsonite could be often recognized. In this paper, we present a detailed structural and petrological study of an area in the northwestern sector of the metaophiolitic high-pressure Voltri Massif (Ligurian Western Alps, Italy). The study area is characterized by a lawsonite-bearing eclogitic metagabbro associated with carbonated serpentinites and glaucophanic metasediments. The metagabbro body reached eclogitic metamorphic peak conditions at T = 465–477°C and P = 20.9–24.4 kbar, with H2O continuously supplied to the system. H2O under-saturated conditions, with the occurrence of both lawsonite and epidote, characterized the exhumation path. Both the low temperature recorded by the body and the occurrence of variously carbonated serpentinites led us to interpret this area as a portion of the top of the subducted slab, coupled with a ‘cool’ mantle wedge, where both aqueous fluids and carbonate-rich fluids were present. The occurrence of rocks belonging to different paleogeographic domains (e.g. continent versus ocean) and the multiple deformations recorded by the metagabbro suggest that this area was nearby the slab–mantle interface. This sector was thus affected by a shear regime that acted in a low-viscosity serpentinite channel, bringing these high-pressure rocks back to the surface.

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