Synopsis

Proterozoic metasediments at Glen Strathfarrar, Inverness-shire, host a deposit of vein-graphite that is unique within the Moinian stratigraphic sequence. Carbon isotopic analysis, Raman microspectroscopy, fluid inclusion studies and volatile gas analysis were used to constrain the origin of the vein-graphite. Carbon isotopic analysis shows that the carbon is heavier than that expected for sedimentary material (δ13C value of −14.35‰), suggesting that fractionation has taken place since sedimentation. Graphitization of sedimentary carbon in the Glenfinnan Group pelitic gneiss occurred in response to changes in both temperature and pressure arising from a series of regional metamorphic events. Scavenging of carbon by metamorphic fluids generated during amphibolite-grade metamorphism associated with the youngest, possibly Caledonian, event is the most probable source of the vein-graphite at Glen Strathfarrar. Similarities in gas composition with quartz veins occurring in Dalradian rocks show that carbonaceous sedimentary sequences consistently generate fluids rich in CO2 and N2, making volatile gas analysis a valuable tool in determining the history of metamorphic fluids. The occurrence of crystalline graphite in the pelitic gneiss at Glen Strathfarrar makes it highly likely that the carbon-rich fluids have been generated from within the Glenfinnan Group sediments rather than from Lewisian rocks at depth. Despite the assertion that graphite is uncommon in Moine rocks, the high ammonium content of biotite in these metasediments and the consistently high N2 values of fluid inclusions within the siliceous schist and quartz veins suggest that, prior to metamorphism, the sediments contained more organic matter than their present composition suggests.

Supplementary material:

The results of incremental crush analysis of vein samples from localities within the Moine, Dalradian and Old Red Sandstone are available at http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/SUP18499.

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