Jadeitite formed during subduction: In situ zircon geochronology constraints from two different tectonic events within the Guatemala Suture Zone

Kennet E. Flores*, Uwe C. Martens, George E. Harlow, Hannes K. Brueckner, Norman J. Pearson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


Jadeitite is a rare rock type associated with high-pressure-low-temperature blocks within serpentinite matrix mélanges. Models of formation involve precipitation from subduction-zone aqueous fluids veining the overlying mantle wedge (P-type), or metasomatism of igneous and/or sedimentary protoliths previously emplaced into the mélange (R-type). Age determinations of mélange lithologies provide constraints on the timing of "peak metamorphism" and subsequent exhumation. The timing of jadeitite formation, particularly in the rich source of the Guatemala Suture Zone (GSZ), is a controversial subject needing further attention.Over 80 in situ zircon crystals from three jadeitites and two mica-albite rocks from the North Motagua Mélange and one phengite jadeitite from the South Motagua Mélange of the GSZ were studied for age and trace-element determination. Most of these zircons are characterized by low Th/U ratios, depleted chondrite-normalized REE patterns relative to zircons from oceanic gabbros, and contain fluid and mineral inclusions that reflect the primary mineralogy (i.e., jadeite) and context (i.e., crystallization from an aqueous fluid) of the host rock, and thus formed during jadeitite crystallization. The SHRIMP-RG and LAM-ICP-MS U-Pb dates from zircon indicate that jadeitites and mica-albite rocks from the GSZ were formed through vein precipitation at ~98-80 and ~154-158. Ma, respectively. These data show (a) older ages that indicate jadeitite crystallization occurred ~10-30. Ma before the preserved subduction-zone peak metamorphism (e.g., exhumed eclogite), and (b) a second group of ages slightly younger than, or similar to, exhumation ages given by Ar-Ar dates from micas. Similar relationships occur at other jadeitite occurrences, such as the Syum-Keu ultramafic complex in the Polar Urals (Russia) and the serpentinite mélanges of the Río San Juan complex (Dominican Republic). The data argue for formation of jadeitite within the mantle wedge during active subduction. Thus, jadeitite provides a record of fluid introduction into the mantle wedge during subduction rather than during exhumation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)67-81
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • Guatemala jadeitite
  • zircon
  • U–Pb dating
  • serpentinite mélange
  • fluid precipitation
  • high pressure–lower temperature metamorphism


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