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Keywords:

  • chronometer;
  • eclogite;
  • thermometer;
  • titanite;
  • zircon

Abstract

Laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry analyses of U–Pb isotopes and trace elements in zircon and titanite were carried out on epoxy mounts and thin sections for ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) eclogite in association with paragneiss in the Dabie orogen. The results provide a direct link between metamorphic ages and temperatures during continental subduction-zone metamorphism. Zircon U–Pb dating gives two groups of concordant ages at 242 ± 2 to 239 ± 5 Ma and 226 ± 2 to 224 ± 6 Ma, respectively. The Triassic zircon U–Pb ages are characterized by flat heavy rare earth element (HREE) patterns typical of metamorphic growth. Ti-in-zircon thermometry for the two generations of metamorphic zircon yields temperatures of 697 ± 27 to 721 ± 8 °C and 742 ± 19 to 778 ± 34 °C, respectively. We interpret that the first episode of zircon growth took place during subduction prior to the onset of UHP metamorphism, whereas the second episode in the stage of exhumation from UHP to HP eclogite facies regime. Thus, the continental subduction-zone metamorphism of sedimentary protolith is temporally associated with two episodes of fluid activity, respectively, predating and postdating the UHP metamorphic phase. The significantly high Ti-in-zircon temperatures for the younger zircon at lower pressures indicate the initial ‘hot’ exhumation after the peak UHP metamorphism. There are two types of titanite. One exhibits light rare earth element (LREE) enrichment, steep MREE–HREE patterns and no Eu anomalies, and yields Zr-in-titanite temperatures of 551 to 605 °C at 0.5 GPa, and the other shows LREE depletion and flat MREE–HREE patterns, and gives Zr-in-titanite temperatures of 782–788 °C at 2.0 GPa. The former is amenable for U–Pb dating, yielding a discordia lower intercept age of 252 ± 3 Ma. Thus, the first type of titanite is interpreted to have grown in the absence of garnet and plagioclase and thus in the early stage of subduction. In contrast, the second one occurs as rims surrounding rutile cores and thus grew in the presence of garnet during the ‘hot’ exhumation. Therefore, there is multistage growth of zircon and titanite during the continental subduction-zone metamorphism. The combined studies of chronometry and thermobarometry provide tight constraints on the P–T–t path of eclogites during the continental collision. It appears that the mid-T/UHP eclogite facies zone would not only form by subduction of the continental crust in a P–T path slightly below the wet granite solidus, but also experience decompression heating during the initial exhumation.