Low-P–high-T metamorphism and the role of heat transport by melt migration in the Higo Metamorphic Complex, Kyushu, Japan



This paper characterizes the metamorphic thermal structure of the Higo Metamorphic Complex (HMC) and presents the results of a numerical simulation of a geotherm with melt migration and solidification. Reconstruction of the geological and metamorphic structure shows that the HMC initially had a simple thermal structure where metamorphic temperatures and pressures increased towards apparent lower structural levels. Subsequently, this initial thermal structure has been collapsed by E–W and NNE–SSW trending high-angle faults. Pressure and temperature conditions using the analysis of mineral assemblages and thermobarometry define a metamorphic field P–T array that may be divided into two segments: the array at apparent higher structural levels has a low-dP/dT slope, whereas that at apparent lower structural levels has a high-dP/dT slope. This composite array cannot be explained by heat conduction in subsolidus rocks alone. Migmatite is exposed pervasively at apparent lower structural levels, but large syn-metamorphic plutons are absent at the levels exposed in the HMC. Transport and solidification of melt within migmatite is a potential mechanism to generate the composite array. Thermal modelling of a geotherm with melt migration and solidification shows that the composite thermal structure may be formed by a change of the dominant heat transfer from an advective regime to a conduction regime with decreasing depth. The model also predicts that strata beneath the crossing point will consist of high-grade solid metamorphic rocks and solidified melt products, such as migmatite. This prediction is consistent with the observation that migmatite was associated with the very high-dP/dT slope. The melt migration model is able to generate the very high-dP/dT segment due to the high rate of heat transfer by advection.