Deep crustal source of gneiss dome revealed by eclogite in migmatite (Montagne Noire, French Massif Central)

Donna L. Whitney, Clémentine Hamelin, Christian Teyssier, Natalie H. Raia, Megan S. Korchinski, Nicholas C.A. Seaton, Brian C. Bagley, Anette von der Handt, Françoise Roger, Patrice F. Rey

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18 Scopus citations


In orogens worldwide and throughout geologic time, large volumes of deep continental crust have been exhumed in domal structures. Extension-driven ascent of bodies of deep, hot crust is a very efficient mechanism for rapid heat and mass transfer from deep to shallow crustal levels and is therefore an important mechanism in the evolution of continents. The dominant rock type in exhumed domes is quartzofeldspathic gneiss (typically migmatitic) that does not record its former high-pressure (HP) conditions in its equilibrium mineral assemblage; rather, it records the conditions of emplacement and cooling in the mid/shallow crust. Mafic rocks included in gneiss may, however, contain a fragmentary record of a HP history, and are evidence that their host rocks were also deeply sourced. An excellent example of exhumed deep crust that retains a partial HP record is in the Montagne Noire dome, French Massif Central, which contains well-preserved eclogite (garnet+omphacite+rutile+quartz) in migmatite in two locations: one in the dome core and the other at the dome margin. Both eclogites record P ~ 1.5 ± 0.2 GPa at T ~ 700 ± 20°C, but differ from each other in whole-rock and mineral composition, deformation features (shape and crystallographic preferred orientation, CPO), extent of record of prograde metamorphism in garnet and zircon, and degree of preservation of inherited zircon. Rim ages of zircon in both eclogites overlap with the oldest crystallization ages of host gneiss at c. 310 Ma, interpreted based on zircon rare earth element abundance in eclogite zircon as the age of HP metamorphism. Dome-margin eclogite zircon retains a widespread record of protolith age (c. 470–450 Ma, the same as host gneiss protolith age), whereas dome-core eclogite zircon has more scarce preservation of inherited zircon. Possible explanations for differences in the two eclogites relate to differences in the protolith mafic magma composition and history and/or the duration of metamorphic heating and extent of interaction with aqueous fluid, affecting zircon crystallization. Differences in HP deformation fabrics may relate to the position of the eclogite facies rocks relative to zones of transpression and transtension at an early stage of dome development. Regardless of differences, both eclogites experienced HP metamorphism and deformation in the deep crust at c. 310 Ma and were exhumed by lithospheric extension—with their host migmatite—near the end of the Variscan orogeny. The deep crust in this region was rapidly exhumed from ~50 to <10 km, where it equilibrated under low-P/high-T conditions, leaving a sparse but compelling record of the deep origin of most of the crust now exposed in the dome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)297-327
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020

Bibliographical note

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© 2020 John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • Montagne Noire
  • deep crust
  • eclogite
  • gneiss dome
  • migmatite


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