Abstract

Combined structural analysis and oxygen isotope thermometry of syntectonic quartz-calcite fibrous veins can be used to correlate the thermal history of deformed rocks with specific structural and tectonic events. Results are presented for the Morcles nappe in the western Helvetic Alps, Switzerland, where mineral parageneses, illite “crystallinity,” and fluid inclusion chemistry record an apparent peak metamorphic temperature gradient that increased across the Morcles nappe from anchizonal conditions in the foreland to epizonal conditions in its hinterland root zone. Twenty-seven quartz-calcite veins were analyzed in this study in order to determine the temperatures of veining during formation and deformation of the nappe. Peak metamorphic temperatures ranged from ≈260 to 290 °C in the shallower, foreland localities and to ≈330 to 350 °C in the deeper, more hinterland localities at the end of S1-foliation formation, related to large-scale folding. Temperatures gradually decreased throughout the nappe during subsequent development of the S2 foliation and S3 crenulation cleavage. Uplift and erosion of the overlying nappe pile resulted in slow cooling of the Morcles nappe during the waning stages of the Alpine Orogeny. The dominant foliation-forming deformation of the Morcles nappe occurred at elevated temperatures over the course of 10 to 15 Ma. Combined structure–oxygen isotope analyses of quartz-calcite veins yield better temperature and temporal constraints on the thermal histories of subgreenschist vein–bearing tectonites than do other geothermometers.

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