The Lugo and Sanabria domes in Northwest Iberia have well constrained metamorphic and structural histories. Both occur in the Iberian autochthon and resulted from late-Variscan extensional collapse following crustal thickening related to the Variscan collision. The two domes developed beneath large thrust sheets, are cored by sillimanite-orthoclase anatectic gneiss, preserve evidence of a steep thermal gradient (≈ 1 °C MPa−1), and exhibit a distinct decrease in metamorphic grade to the east in the direction of nappe movement. Geochronological evidence indicates that the lower crust melted within ≈ 30 Ma of initial crustal thickening and that dome formation occurred within 50 Ma.

The histories of the two domes are considered as the basis for one-dimensional finite-difference models of thermal response to changes in crustal thickness. Results from thermal models suggest that thickening was limited to the crust, provide a numeric explanation for timing and nature of granite magmatism, and indicate that high-temperature metamorphism and crustal anatexis may result directly from thermal relaxation, eliminating the need for significant mantle thermal contribution. Also, the models show that small differences in thickness of large, wedge-shaped thrust sheets can explain distinct P-T paths experienced by different limbs of the domes.

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