Multiple metamorphic stages within an eclogite-facies terrane (Sesia Zone, Western Alps) revealed by Th-U-Pb petrochronology

Regis, Daniele; Rubatto, Daniela; Darling, James; Cenki, Bénédicte; Zucali, Michele; Engi, Martin (2014). Multiple metamorphic stages within an eclogite-facies terrane (Sesia Zone, Western Alps) revealed by Th-U-Pb petrochronology. Journal of petrology, 55(7), pp. 1429-1456. Oxford University Press 10.1093/petrology/egu029

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Convergent plate margins typically experience a transition from subduction to collision dynamics as massive continental blocks enter the subduction channel. Studies of high-pressure rocks indicate that tectonic fragments are rapidly exhumed from eclogite facies to midcrustal levels, but the details of such dynamics are controversial.To understand the dynamics of a subduction channel we report the results of a petrochronological study from the central Sesia Zone, a key element of the internalWestern Alps.This comprises two polymetamorphic basement complexes (Eclogitic Micaschist Complex and Gneiss Minuti Complex) and a thin, dismembered cover sequence (Scalaro Unit) associated with pre-Alpine metagabbros and metasediments (Bonze Unit). Structurally controlled samples from three of these units (Eclogitic Micaschist Complex and Scalaro-Bonze Units) yield unequivocal petrological and geochronological evidence of two distinct high-pressure stages. Ages (U-Th-Pb) of growth zones in accessory allanite and zircon, combined with inclusion and textural relationships, can be tied to the multi-stage evolution of single samples.Two independent tectono-metamorphic ‘slices’ showing a coherent metamorphic evolution during a given time interval have been recognized: the Fondo slice (which includes Scalaro and Bonze rocks) and the Druer slice (belonging to the Eclogitic Micaschist Complex).The new data indicate separate stages of deformation at eclogite-facies conditions for each recognized independent kilometer-sized tectono-metamorphic slice, between ~85 and 60 Ma, with evidence of intermittent decompression (∆P~0.5 GPa) within only the Fondo slice. The evolution path of the Druer slice indicates a different P-T-time evolution with prolonged eclogite-facies metamorphism between ~85 and 75Ma. Our approach, combining structural, petrological and geochronological techniques, yields field-based constraints on the duration and rates of dynamics within a subduction channel.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Regis, Daniele, Rubatto, Daniela, Darling, James, Cenki, Bénédicte, Engi, Martin


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Oxford University Press


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Martin Engi

Date Deposited:

10 Aug 2015 10:40

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:48

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

geochronology, geodynamics, high-pressure metamorphism, Sesia Zone




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