During high-pressure, low-temperature greenschist and epidote-amphibolite facies metamorphism in Dalradian rocks of the SW Scottish Highlands, mineral assemblages in metabasites and calcareous metasediments were dominantly controlled by infiltration of hydrous fluids; consequently, mineral assemblages capable of buffering the fluid phase composition were rare. Equilibrium prograde H2O-CO2 fluids usually contained less or much less than about 1–2 mol% CO2.
Three fluid infiltration events are recognized. During prograde greenschist facies metamorphism, metabasic sills were infiltrated by large volumes of CO2-bearing hydrous fluid; carbon isotope studies indicate that the CO2 was locally derived by widespread oxidation of graphite or other organic carbon in adjacent metasediments. This may have occurred under approximately lower greenschist facies conditions as a result of mixing of fluids of varying fO2, initiated by thermal expansion of water during heating, decompression and consequent hydraulic fracturing. In the epidote-amphibole facies (garnet zone), dehydration reactions in metabasites generated large quantities of water, which removed carbonate from metabasites on a regional scale and infiltrated calcareous metasediments to produce assemblages containing grossular, diopside, K-feldspar, amphibole, clinozoisite and sphene. A late retrograde infiltration of CO2,-bearing hydrous fluid under lower greenschist facies conditions generated assemblages containing K-feldspar + chlorite + rutile ± dolomite in calcareous rocks and albite prophyroblast schists in zones of intense secondary deformation.
Large-scale infiltration of fluid into greenschist-facies metadolerite sills was intimately related to, and possibly controlled by, penetrative deformation and, in the absence of a penetrative deformation, grain-boundary diffusion by itself was an ineffectual mechanism of fluid transport.