Fluid-induced transition from banded kyanite- to bimineralic eclogite and implications for the evolution of cratons

H. Sommer*, D. E. Jacob, R. A. Stern, D. Petts, D. P. Mattey, D. G. Pearson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Heterogeneous, modally banded kyanite-bearing and bimineralic eclogites from the lithospheric mantle, collected at the Roberts Victor Diamond mine (South Africa), show a reaction texture in which kyanite is consumed. Geothermobarometric calculations using measured mineral compositions in Perple_X allowed the construction of a P-T path showing a steep, cool prograde metamorphic gradient of 2 °C/km to reach peak conditions of 5.8 GPa and 890 °C for the kyanite eclogite. The kyanite-out reaction formed bimineralic eclogite and is probably an integral part of the mineralogical evolution of most archetypal bimineralic eclogites at Roberts Victor and potentially elsewhere. The kyanite-out reaction occured at close to peak pressure (5.3 GPa) and was associated with a rise in temperature to 1380 °C. Mass balance calculations show that upon breakdown, the kyanite component is fully accommodated in garnet and omphacite via a reaction system with low water fugacity that required restricted fluid influx from metasomatic sources. The δ18O values of garnets are consistently higher than normal mantle values. Each sample has its characteristic trend of δ18O variance between garnets in the kyanite-bearing sections and those in the bimineralic parts covering a range between 5.1‰ and 6.8‰. No systematic change in O-isotope signature exists across the sample population. Differences in garnet trace element signatures between differing lithologies in the eclogites are significant. Grossular-rich garnets coexisting with kyanite have strong positive Eu-anomalies and low Gd/Yb ratios, while more pyrope-rich garnets in the bimineralic sections have lost their positive Eu-anomaly, have higher Gd/Yb ratios and generally higher heavy rare earth element contents. Garnets in the original kyanite-bearing portions thus reflect the provenance of the rocks as metamorphosed gabbros/troctolites. The kyanite-out reaction was most likely triggered by a heating event in the subcratonic lithosphere. As kyanite contains around 100 ppm of H2O it is suggested that the kyanite-out reaction, once initiated by heating and restricted metasomatic influx, was promoted by the release of water contained in the kyanite. The steep (high-P low-T) prograde P-T path defining rapid compression at low heating rates is atypical for subduction transport of eclogites into the lithospheric mantle. Such a trajectory is best explained in a model where strong lateral compression forces eclogites downward to higher pressures, supporting models of cratonic lithosphere formation by lateral collision and compression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-42
Number of pages24
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017


  • Kaapvaal craton
  • Cratonic lithosphere
  • Perple_X
  • Kyanite
  • Oxygen isotopes
  • Eclogite


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