The 590 ± 2 Ma Ben Vuirich Granite was intruded into late Proterozoic Dalradian rocks prior to the Grampian orogeny, during which it was affected by upper amphibolite facies regional metamorphism. Spotted cordierite and andalusite (chiastolite) hornfelses at the granite margin were altered to kyanite-and garnet-bearing assemblages during regional metamorphism. From the inferred mineralogy of the hornfels, together with the normative Qz–Ab–Or values of the granite and the application of a simple cooling model, we conclude that the country rocks immediately adjacent to the granite were hornfelsed at T = ~600°C and P ⩽ 2 kbar.

The hornfelsed rocks were subsequently metamorphosed during the regional D2 event to form an equilibrium mineral assemblage of muscovite + biotite + garnet + plagioclase + quartz + kyanite (after chiastolite). Garnet which grew during this event shows unusual reversed chemical zoning, with Ca increasing systematically from core to rim as Fe, Mg and Mn decrease. A study of element partitioning between coexisting phases in equilibrium (including zoned garnets), and use of an internally consistent thermodynamic dataset, suggest that isothermal (T = 577 ± 42°C) compression (from P = 6.2 ± 1.6 kbar to 9.0 ± 1.9 kbar) occurred during crustal thickening. K-feldspar-plagioclase-quartz veinlets found in the hornfels close the granite contact are demonstrated to be of igneous origin.

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