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

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Abstract

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.

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