Absence of evidence for Palaeoproterozoic eclogite-facies metamorphism in East Antarctica: no record of subduction orogenesis during Nuna development

Dillon A. Brown, Laura J. Morrissey, John W. Goodge, Martin Hand

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The cratonic elements of proto-Australia, East Antarctica, and Laurentia constitute the nucleus of the Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic supercontinent Nuna, with the eastern margin of the Mawson Continent (South Australia and East Antarctica) positioned adjacent to the western margin of Laurentia. Such reconstructions of Nuna fundamentally rely on palaeomagnetic and geological evidence. In the geological record, eclogite-facies rocks are irrefutable indicators of subduction and collisional orogenesis, yet occurrences of eclogites in the ancient Earth (> 1.5 Ga) are rare. Models for Palaeoproterozoic amalgamation between Australia, East Antarctica, and Laurentia are based in part on an interpretation that eclogite-facies metamorphism and, therefore, collisional orogenesis, occurred in the Nimrod Complex of the central Transantarctic Mountains at c. 1.7 Ga. However, new zircon petrochronological data from relict eclogite preserved in the Nimrod Complex indicate that high-pressure metamorphism did not occur in the Palaeoproterozoic, but instead occurred during early Palaeozoic Ross orogenesis along the active convergent margin of East Gondwana. Relict c. 1.7 Ga zircons from the eclogites have trace-element characteristics reflecting the original igneous precursor, thereby casting doubt on evidence for a Palaeoproterozoic convergent plate boundary along the current eastern margin of the Mawson Continent. Therefore, rather than a Palaeoproterozoic (c. 1.7 Ga) history involving subduction-related continental collision, a pattern of crustal shortening, magmatism, and high thermal gradient metamorphism connected cratons in Australia, East Antarctica, and western Laurentia at that time, leading eventually to amalgamation of Nuna at c. 1.6 Ga.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6717
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Australian Research Council grant DP16010437. L.J.M. is supported by an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship DE210101126 and funding from the University of South Australia. We acknowledge the contributions of Aoife McFadden and Sarah Gilbert who assisted with zircon imaging and data collection. We thank Andrew Kylander-Clark and two anonymous reviewers for their valuable suggestions which greatly improved several aspects of the paper.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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