Abstract

Granulite occupies the root of orogenic belts, and understanding its formation and evolution may provide critical information on orogenic processes. Previous studies have mainly focused on garnet-bearing high-pressure and medium-pressure granulites, whereas the metamorphic evolution and pressure-temperature (P-T) paths of garnet-absent, low-pressure granulites are more difficult to constrain. Here, we present zircon U-Pb ages and mineral chemistry for a suite of newly discovered two-pyroxene granulites in the North Altyn Tagh area, southeastern Tarim craton, northwestern China. Conventional geothermobarometry and phase equilibrium modeling revealed that these rocks experienced a peak granulite-facies metamorphism at T = 790–890 °C and P = 8–11 kbar. The mineral compositions and retrograde symplectites record a clockwise cooling and exhumation path, possibly involving near-isothermal decompression followed by near-isobaric cooling. Zircon U-Pb dating yielded a ca. 1.97 Ga metamorphic age, which likely represents the initial cooling age, based on Ti-in-zircon thermometry. Combined with regional geological records, we interpret that these granulites originated from the basement rocks of a late Paleoproterozoic magmatic arc that was subsequently involved in a collisional orogen in the southern Tarim craton, presumably related to the assembly of the Columbia/Nuna supercontinent. The clockwise P-T paths of the granulites record crustal thickening and burial followed by crustal thinning and exhumation in the upper plate of the collisional orogen. Our data indicate that the initial exhumation of this orogen probably occurred no later than ca. 1.97 Ga, which is supported by widespread 1.93–1.85 Ga postorogenic magmatism in this area.

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