Granite genesis and the mechanics of convergent orogenic belts with application to the southern Adelaide Fold Belt

Mike Sandiford, John Foden, Shaohua Zhou, Simon Turner

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51 Citations (Scopus)


Two models for the heating responsible for granite generation during convergent deformation may be distinguished on the basis of the length- and time-scales associated with the thermal perturbation, namely: (1) long-lived, lithospheric-scale heating as a conductive response to the deformation, and (2) transient, localised heating as a response to advective heat sources such as mantle-derived melts. The strong temperature dependence of lithospheric rheology implies that the heat advected within rising granites may affect the distribution and rates of deformation within the developing orogen in a way that reflects the thermal regime attendant on granite formation; this contention is supported by numerical models of lithospheric deformation based on the thin-sheet approximation. The model results are compared with geological and isotopic constraints on granite genesis in the southern Adelaide Fold Belt where intrusion spans a 25 Ma convergent deformation cycle, from about 516 to 490 Ma, resulting in crustal thickening to 50–55 km. High-T metamorphism in this belt is spatially restricted to an axis of magmatic activity where the intensity and complexity of deformation is significantly greater, and may have started earlier, than in adjacent low-grade areas. The implication is that granite generation and emplacement is a causative factor in localising deformation, and on the basis of the results of the mechanical models suggests that granite formation occurred in response to localised, transient crustal heating by mantle melts. This is consistent with the Nd- and Sr-isotopic composition of the granites which seems to reflect mixed sources with components derived both from the depleted contemporary mantle and the older crust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83-93
Number of pages11
JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • deformation
  • granite
  • mechanics
  • metamorphism


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