Paleozoic HP Granulite-facies Metamorphism and Anatexis in the Dulan Area of the North Qaidam UHP Terrane, Western China: Constraints from Petrology, Zircon U–Pb and Amphibole Ar-Ar Geochronology

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HP mafic and felsic adakitic granulite bodies in the Dulan area of the North Qaidam ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) terrane record high-pressure (HP) granulite-facies metamorphism and anatexis and provide temporal and tectonic constraints on deep subduction of continental crust and its subsequent exhumation. Mafic HP granulite components dominate the main outcrop and preserve features diagnostic of anatexis and locally may be described as migmatite. The HP mafic granulites comprise garnet, clinopyroxene, plagioclase and quartz. The felsic granulite (leucosome) is mainly composed of K-feldspar + plagioclase + quartz + kyanite + garnet. Detailed zircon U–Pb and amphibole Ar–Ar geochronology, combined with trace element geochemistry, indicate peak metamorphism for the mafic HP granulite at 434 ± 3 to 435 ± 3 Ma and peak metamorphism and partial melting for the felsic HP granulite at 433 ± 5 to 438 ± 4 Ma, which overlaps the ages of UHP metamorphism for adjacent eclogite (430–446 Ma). 40Ar/39Ar amphibole ages of 423 to 432 Ma represent amphibolite-facies retrograde metamorphism and indicate rapid cooling during exhumation of the HP granulite bodies. Our geochronological data, combined with field relationships, petrology and geochemistry suggest that HP granulite-facies metamorphism and the partial melting that produced adakitic melts represent the same tectonic event. In this case, the felsic HP granulites (leucosome) formed from an adakitic melt derived from partial melting of mafic HP granulite in the overriding plate in a relatively higher geothermal gradient (15–18 °C/km), leaving garnet-cumulate and/or meta-ultramafic (mainly garnet pyroxenite) as the residual component. In contrast, the nearby UHP eclogite is thought to have formed in the subducted plate in a relatively lower geothermal gradient (6–10 °C/km). Penecontemporaneous metamorphic ages but different geothermal gradients between HP granulites and related UHP eclogite define a possible paired metamorphic belt generated in a subduction–collision setting associated with the North Qaidam continental collisional orogeny during the Late Ordovician–Early Silurian.


This article was originally published in Lithos. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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