U-Pb geochronology on metamorphic minerals from a 35-km-long belt of eclogite-facies rocks in central Tanzania yields a Paleoproterozoic age of 2 Ga for the time of metamorphism. Peak metamorphic conditions found in eclogites (± kyanite) and metapelites reached about 750 °C and 18 kbar. A clockwise pressure-temperature path is deduced from mineral zonations, inclusion relations, and retrograde reaction textures. Near-isothermal decompression can be explained by erosion or tectonically controlled exhumation that followed tectonic thickening of the crust during subduction. Trace and rare earth element geochemistry indicates a mid-ocean ridge basaltlike mantle source for the precursors of the mafic members of the eclogite-facies rock suite. All the observations combined indicate that these high-pressure rocks are the oldest-known large-scale outcrops of eclogites formed during subduction of oceanic lithosphere. Linking eclogite formation to a Paleoproterozoic subduction event adds credibility to models of crust dynamics that advocate the operation of plate-tectonic processes early in Earth's history. The paucity of Precambrian eclogites may then be addressed as a problem of preservation rather than lack of formation.

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