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Microstructurally controlled monazite chronology of ultrahigh-temperature granulites from southern India: Implications for the timing of Gondwana assembly



Ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) granulite facies rocks from the Achankovil Shear Zone area and the southern domain of the Madurai Granulite Block in South India contain monazite useful for in situ microprobe U–Pb dating. The UHT rocks examined consist of garnet + cordierite (retrograde) + quartz + mesoperthite + biotite + plagioclase + Fe-Ti oxides ± orthopyroxene ± sillimanite and accessory zircon and monazite. Sillimanite occurs only as inclusions in garnet. Microstructural observations suggest garnet, orthopyroxene, spinel and mesoperthite are products of peak metamorphism. Post-peak formation of cordierite ± orthopyroxene ± quartz and cordierite + spinel + Fe-Ti oxides assemblages is also observed. Geothermobarometry on orthopyroxene and garnet-orthopyroxene bearing assemblages suggest peak UHT conditions of T = 940–1040°C and P = 8.5–9.5 kbar. This was followed by a retrograde stage of 3.5–4.5 kbar and 720 ± 60°C, estimated from garnet-cordierite assemblages. A small population of rounded, probably detrital, monazites in these rocks yield ages from Meso- to Neoproterozoic indicating a heterogeneous source. The youngest associated spot ages are 660–600 Ma suggesting protolith deposition up to ca 600 Ma. In contrast, the vast majority of monazites that crystallized during the latest metamorphic event show late Neoproterozoic to Cambrian ages. Probability-density plots of monazite age data show a ‘peak’ between 533 and 565 Ma, but this peak need not reflect a particular thermal event. Collating ages from homogenous metamorphic monazites associated with minerals stable at peak P-T conditions suggests peak metamorphism in these rocks occurred at 580–600 Ma. Together with a re-evaluation of available data from adjacent granulite blocks in southern India, these data suggest the main metamorphic event coinciding with the suturing of India with the Gondwana amalgam probably occurred 580–600 Ma. The 500–550 Ma ages commonly reported in previous studies might represent post-peak thermal events.

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