Metamorphic evolution of sapphirine- and orthoamphibole-cordierite-bearing gneiss, Okanogan dome, Washington, USA

S. C. Kruckenberg, D. L. Whitney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Gneiss domes are commonly cored by quartzofeldspathic rocks that provide little information about the pressure-temperature-fluid history of the domes. Three northern Cordilleran migmatite domes (Thor-Odin and Valhalla/Passmore, British Columbia, Canada; Okanogan, Washington, USA), however, contain Mg-Al-rich orthoamphibole-cordierite gneiss as layers and lenses that record metamorphic conditions and pressure-temperature (P-T) path information not preserved in the host migmatite. These Mg-Al-rich rocks are therefore a valuable archive of metamorphic conditions during dome evolution, although refractory rocks such as these commonly contain reaction textures that may complicate the calculation of metamorphic conditions. In the Okanogan dome, Mg-Al-rich layers are part of the Tunk Creek unit, which occurs at the periphery of an underlying migmatite domain. Bulk compositional layers (mm- to m-scale) consist of gedrite-dominated, hornblende-dominated and biotite-bearing layers that contain variable amounts of gedrite, hornblende, anorthite, cordierite, spinel, sapphirine, corundum, kyanite, biotite and/or staurolite. The presence of different compositional layers (some with reaction textures, some without) allows systematic analysis of metamorphic history by a combined petrographic and phase equilibrium analysis. Gedrite-dominated layers containing relict kyanite preserve evidence of the highest-P conditions; symplectitic and coronal reaction textures around kyanite indicate decompression at high temperature. Gedrite-dominated layers lacking these reaction textures contain layers of sapphirine and spinel in apparent textural equilibrium and record a later high-T-low-P part of the path. Phase equilibria (pseudosection) analysis for layers that lack reaction textures indicates metamorphic conditions of 720-750°C at a range of pressures (>8 to <4 kbar) following decompression. Elevated crustal temperatures and concordant structural fabrics in the Tunk Creek unit and underlying migmatite domain suggest that the calculated P-T conditions recorded in Tunk Creek rocks were coeval with anatexis, extension, and dome formation in Palaeocene-Eocene time. In contrast to orthoamphibole-cordierite gneiss in the other Cordilleran domes, the Tunk Creek unit occurs as a discontinuous km-scale layer rather than as smaller (m-scale) pods, is more calcic, and lacks garnet. In addition, kyanite did not transform to sillimanite, and spinel commonly occurs as a blocky matrix phase in addition to vermicules in symplectite. These differences, along with the compositional layering, allow an analysis of bulk composition v. tectonic (P-T path) controls on mineral assemblages and textures. Pseudosection modelling of different layers in the Tunk Creek unit provides a basis for understanding the metamorphic history of these texturally complex, refractory rocks and their host gneiss domes, and other such rocks in similar tectonic settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)425-449
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 2011


  • High-temperature metamorphism
  • Mg-Al gneiss
  • North American Cordillera
  • Okanogan dome
  • Omineca belt
  • Orthoamphibole-cordierite
  • Pseudosection
  • Reaction textures
  • Sapphirine-spinel
  • Symplectite
  • Washington

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