Dating prograde fluid pulses during subduction by in situ U–Pb and oxygen isotope analysis

Gauthiez‑Putallaz, Laure; Rubatto, Daniela; Hermann, Jörg (2016). Dating prograde fluid pulses during subduction by in situ U–Pb and oxygen isotope analysis. Contributions to mineralogy and petrology, 171(2), pp. 1-20. Springer 10.1007/s00410-015-1226-4

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Keywords High-pressure fluids · Whiteschists · U–Pb dating · Oxygen isotopes · Ion microprobe · Metasomatism
The subduction of crustal material to mantle depths and its chemical modification during burial and exhumation contribute to element recycling in the mantle and the formation of new crust through arc magmatism. Crustal rocks that Abstract The Dora-Maira whiteschists derive from metasomatically altered granites that experienced ultrahighpressure metamorphism at ~750 °C and 40 kbar during the Alpine orogeny. In order to investigate the P–T–time–fluid evolution of the whiteschists, we obtained U–Pb ages from zircon and monazite and combined those with trace element composition and oxygen isotopes of the accessory minerals and coexisting garnet. Zircon cores are the only remnants of the granitic protolith and still preserve a Permian age, magmatic trace element compositions and δ18O of ~10 ‰. Thermodynamic modelling of Si-rich and Si-poor whiteschist compositions shows that there are two main fluid pulses during prograde subduction between 20 and 40 kbar. In Si-poor samples, the breakdown of chlorite to garnet + fluid occurs at ~22 kbar. A first zircon rim directly overgrowing the cores has inclusions of prograde phlogopite and HREE-enriched patterns indicating zircon growth at the onset of garnet formation. A second main fluid pulse is documented close to peak metamorphic conditions in both Si-rich and Si-poor whiteschist when talc + kyanite react to garnet + coesite + fluid. A second metamorphic overgrowth on zircon with HREE depletion was observed in the Si-poor whiteschists, whereas a single metamorphic overgrowth capturing phengite and talc inclusions was observed in the Si-rich whiteschists. Garnet rims, zircon rims and monazite are in chemical and isotopic equilibrium for oxygen, demonstrating that they all formed at peak metamorphism at 35 Ma as constrained by the age of monazite (34.7 ± 0.4 Ma) and zircon rims (35.1 ± 0.8 Ma).
The prograde zircon rim in Si-poor whiteschists has an age that is within error indistinguishable from the age of peak metamorphic conditions, consistent with a minimum rate of subduction of 2 cm/year for the Dora-Maira unit. Oxygen isotope values for zircon rims, monazite and garnet are equal within error at 6.4 ± 0.4 ‰, which is in line with closed-system equilibrium fractionation during prograde to peak temperatures. The resulting equilibrium Δ18Ozircon-monazite at 700 ± 20 °C is 0.1 ± 0.7 ‰. The in situ oxygen isotope data argue against an externally derived input of fluids into the whiteschists. Instead, fluidassisted zircon and monazite recrystallisation can be linked to internal dehydration reactions during prograde subduction.
We propose that the major metasomatic event affecting the granite protolith was related to hydrothermal seafloor alteration post-dating Jurassic rifting, well before the onset of Alpine subduction.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Rubatto, Daniela, Hermann, Jörg


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology








Daniela Rubatto

Date Deposited:

19 May 2016 10:21

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:55

Publisher DOI:





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