In situ uranium-lead dating (LA-SF-ICP-MS and SIMS) and Lu-Hf isotope analyses (LA-MC-ICP-MS) of zircon from eclogite facies rocks from the basal units of the Variscan Belt in Galicia constrain their magmatic and metamorphic evolution and give some clues about the nature and origin of the involved basement. The samples studied are two felsic gneisses, two eclogites, and one eclogitic gneiss of intermediate composition (metatonalite). Oscillatory-zoned zircon cores from the felsic samples gave a main clustering of U-Pb ages at 493 ± 2 and 494 ± 2 Ma, and some older ages that represent inherited cores. Zircon grains from the intermediate and one of the mafic rocks show no inherited cores and yielded ages of 494 ± 3 and 498 ± 6 Ma, respectively, interpreted as time of protolith crystallization. Variably developed homogeneous zircon rims in one felsic gneiss yielded an age of 372 ± 3 Ma, and very tiny zircons of one eclogite gave 350 ± 2 Ma, both of which we interpret as metamorphic ages.

The new age data demonstrate that the calc-alkaline magmatic suite described in the basal unit is ca. 20 Ma older than the alkaline to peralkaline plutonic suite of the same unit (dated at 472 ± 2 Ma; Rodríguez et al., 2007), and thus probably represents a distinct geologic event. Overgrowth rims are interpreted as metamorphic on the basis of their Lu/Hf and Th/U ratios. The 372 ± 3 age is considered as dating the high-pressure (high-P) metamorphism, and is essentially in agreement with previous Ar-Ar and Rb-Sr data. This high-P metamorphism marks the initial early-Variscan subduction of the Gondwana margin. The inherited zircon ages and Hf isotopic composition of zircons point to a considerable input of crustal material with West African Craton provenance to the felsic magma.

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