Neoproterozoic eclogite-to granulite-facies transition in the Ubendian Belt, Tanzania, and the timescale of continental collision


In collision-type orogens, where high-pressure and ultrahigh-pressure (HP–UHP) metamorphism usually occurs, deeply subducted continental slabs with eclogitized mafic rocks often undergo recrystallization/overprinting with various geothermal gradients after the peak conditions at lower-to-middle-crustal levels. During the crustal stabilization, the transition from eclogite- to granulite-facies is common. We conducted metamorphic petrology and zircon geochronology on (1) bimineralic and (2) partially granulitized eclogites from the Neoproterozoic Ufipa Terrane (Southwestern Tanzania). Microtextural relationships and mineral chemistry define three metamorphic stages: eclogite metamorphism (M1), HP granulite-facies overprinting (M2), and amphibolite-facies retrogression (M3). The bimineralic eclogite has a basaltic composition and lacks M2 minerals. In contrast, the kyanite eclogite is characterized by a gabbro-dioritic whole-rock composition and contains inherited magmatic zircon. Although the matrix is highly granulitized, garnet and kyanite contain eclogite-facies mineral inclusions. Phase equilibria modeling revealed P–T conditions of ~2.1–2.6 GPa and ~650–860°C for the M1 stage, and ~1.4–1.6 GPa and ~750–940°C for the M2 stage. Zircon with eclogite-facies mineral inclusions from the bimineralic eclogite lack Eu anomaly in the REE patterns and yielded the M1 eclogite metamorphic age of 588 ± 3 Ma. Zircon overgrowths surrounding the inherited Paleoproterozoic magmatic cores in kyanite eclogite yielded 562 ± 3 Ma. A weak negative Eu anomaly in the REE patterns and the absence of eclogitic mineral inclusions suggest the zircon growths at the M2 HP granulite-facies metamorphic stage. These new data indicate an eclogite- to granulite-facies transition time of 26 ± 4 million years (Myr), suggesting a rate of HP rock exhumation toward a lower crustal level of ~0.7–1.5 mm/yr. Furthermore, the density evolution model indicates that buoyant host orthogneiss with low-density gabbro-dioritic eclogite, plays an important role in carrying high-density basaltic eclogite. Our 2D thermomechanical modeling also suggests that a slab break-off with a lower angle subduction of <~20° triggers the exhumation of the HP slab sliver with ~20–30 Myr eclogite-to-granulite transition time of large HP–UHP terranes in major collision zones.

Journal of Petrology, v. 63, no. 3, p. 1–24, doi:10.1093/petrology/egac012