Research ArticleGEOLOGY

Quartz, mica, and amphibole exsolution from majoritic garnet reveals ultra-deep sediment subduction, Appalachian orogen

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Science Advances  13 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 11, eaay5178
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay5178


Diamond and coesite are classic indicators of ultrahigh-pressure (UHP; ≥100-kilometer depth) metamorphism, but they readily recrystallize during exhumation. Crystallographically oriented pyroxene and amphibole exsolution lamellae in garnet document decomposed supersilicic UHP majoritic garnet originally stable at diamond-grade conditions, but majoritic precursors have only been quantitatively demonstrated in mafic and ultramafic rocks. Moreover, controversy persists regarding which silicates majoritic garnet breakdown produces. We present a method for reconstructing precursor majoritic garnet chemistry in metasedimentary Appalachian gneisses containing garnets preserving concentric zones of crystallographically oriented lamellae including quartz, amphibole, and sodium phlogopite. We link this to novel quartz-garnet crystallographic orientation data. The results reveal majoritic precursors stable at ≥175-kilometer depth and that quartz and mica may exsolve from garnet. Large UHP terranes in the European Caledonides formed during collision of the paleocontinents Baltica and Laurentia; we demonstrate UHP metamorphism from the microcontinent-continent convergence characterizing the contiguous and coeval Appalachian orogen.

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