Abstract

The Middle Paleozoic Maksyutov Complex is an important component of the Eurasian collisional orogeny. It consists of dominant mica-rich garnet schist and mica-poor quartzofeldspathic gneiss enclosing minor mafic eclogite boudins (unit no. 1). Employing Raman spectroscopy, we identified three cuboidal microdiamond inclusions (~2–3 micrometers in diameter) in garnet hosts from two different mica-poor gneissic samples. Broad spectral bands and high magnification SEM images suggest that the cuboids are fine-grained nanocrystalline diamond aggregates characterized by limited long-range ordering. Their poor crystallinity is compatible with relatively low-temperature, solid-state growth in the absence of both melt and a C-O-H-N fluid. Poor crystallinity, and small grain size suggest that such aggregates may represent the lowest temperature microdiamonds yet identified in nature. Their formation required ultrahigh-pressures (UHP) at a minimum of 3.2 GPa, and a metamorphic temperature of ~650 °C. Blocky graphite up to 10+ mm across in the matrix of mica-rich carbonaceous garnet schist may represent pseudomorphs after much larger neoblastic diamonds. Thermobarometric calculations for analyzed coexisting garnet + omphacite + phengite from six Maksyutov unit no. 1 mafic eclogites indicate retrograde physical conditions of 610–680 °C, 1.7–2.6 GPa, slightly lower-pressure conditions than the coesite stability field. Complete conversion of diamond to blocky graphite in the mica-rich schists, and recrystallization of coesite to quartz in the schists, quartzofeldspathic gneisses, and eclogite pods reflect relatively slow exhumation from ~110 km depth to upper crustal levels over 60–90 m.y. Phengite inclusions in zircon and garnet hint at modest activity of H2O during prograde UHP metamorphism of the eclogites and mica-poor gneisses. The latter have retained rare, tiny microdiamond inclusions in garnet on decompression. Abundant white mica in the carbonaceous garnet schists probably reflects a C-O-H-N fluid-mediated, kinetically enhanced prograde production of diamond, and efficient obliteration of this phase accompanying leisurely ascent of the subduction complex. In contrast, associated mica-poor gneisses and eclogites were relatively dry during exhumation, so retained rare nanocrystalline microdiamond inclusions in garnet.

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