In many orogens, high-pressure (HP) metamorphic rocks such as eclogite occur as lenses in quartzofeldspathic gneiss that equilibrated at much lower pressures. The pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) history of eclogite relative to host gneiss provides information about mechanisms and timescales of exhumation of orogenic crust. The Montagne Noire of the southern Massif Central, France, is an eclogite-bearing gneiss (migmatite) dome located at the orogen-foreland transition of the Variscan belt. Results of our study show that it contains the youngest eclogite in the orogen, similar in age to migmatite and granite that crystallized under low-pressure conditions. P-T conditions for an exceptionally unaltered eclogite from the central Montagne Noire were estimated using a pseudosection supplemented by garnet-clinopyroxene and Zr-in-rutile thermometry. Results indicate peak P~1.4 GPa and T~725 °C for Mg-rich garnet rim (50 mol% pyrope) + omphacite (36 mol% jadeite) + rutile + quartz. U-Pb geochronology (LA-ICP-MS) of 16 zoned zircon grains yielded ~360 Ma (4 cores) and ~315 Ma (12 rims and cores). Rare earth element abundances determined by LA-ICP-MS for dated zircon are consistent with crystallization of ~315 Ma zircon under garnet-stable, plagioclase-unstable conditions that we interpret to indicate high pressure; in contrast, the ~360 Ma zircon core corresponds to crystallization under lower pressure plagioclase-stable conditions. Based on garnet zoning and inclusion suites, rutile textures and Zr zoning, P-T results, and zircon petrochronology, we interpret the ~315 Ma date as the age of eclogite-facies metamorphism that only slightly preceded dome formation and crystallization at 315-300 Ma. This age relation indicates that eclogite formation at high pressure and migmatite dome emplacement at low pressure were closely spaced in time. We propose that collapse-driven material transfer from the hot orogen to the cool foreland resulted in thickening of the orogen edge, leading to eclogite facies metamorphism of the deep crust. Soon after, the low-viscosity partially molten crust flowed from the plateau toward the foreland, incorporating and exhuming eclogite. The P-T-t history of the Montagne Noire eclogite shows that some dome material ascended from >40 km depth to shallow crustal levels, likely in a single decompression event, and that migmatite domes are therefore very efficient at exhuming the deep crust.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by NSF grant EAR-1050020 to Teyssier and Whitney. We thank Jessie Shields (Macalester College) for acquiring the whole-rock (XRF) analysis, Anette von der Handt for developing the protocols for the Zr-in-rutile analysis, Côme Lefebvre for mineral separation (zircon), and Katherine Fornash for initial Perple_X experiments. We also thank Valérie Bosse and Jean-Louis Paquette (Laboratoire “Magmas et Volcans”, Clermont–Ferrand) for their participation in the geochronological–geochemical analyses. We thank two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments that helped improve the manuscript.
- Crustal flow
- French Massif Central
- Gneiss dome
- Montagne Noire