Episodes of ultrahigh-temperature (UHT, ≥900 °C) granulite metamorphism have been recorded in mountain belts since the Neoarchean. However, evidence for the tectonic mechanisms responsible for the generation of such extreme thermal conditions is rarely preserved. Here we report the discovery of 16 Ma UHT granulites—the youngest identified at the Earth’s surface—from the Kobipoto Mountains of Seram in eastern Indonesia. UHT conditions were produced by a modern tectonic system in which slab rollback–driven lithospheric extension caused core complex–style exhumation of hot subcontinental lithospheric mantle. Overlying continental crust, heated and metamorphosed by exhumed lherzolites, developed spinel + quartz and sapphirine-bearing residual assemblages, shown by phase equilibria modeling to have required temperatures of ∼950 °C at ∼8 kbar pressure. Seram is therefore a possible modern analogue for ancient orogens that incorporate UHT granulites.

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