Mass transfer in the lower crust

evidence for incipient melt assisted flow along grain boundaries in the deep arc granulites of Fiordland, New Zealand

Catherine A. Stuart*, Sandra Piazolo, Nathan R. Daczko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Knowledge of mass transfer is critical in improving our understanding of crustal evolution, however mass transfer mechanisms are debated, especially in arc environments. The Pembroke Granulite is a gabbroic gneiss, passively exhumed from depths of >45 km from the arc root of Fiordland, New Zealand. Here, enstatite and diopside grains are replaced by coronas of pargasite and quartz, which may be asymmetric, recording hydration of the gabbroic gneiss. The coronas contain microstructures indicative of the former presence of melt, supported by pseudosection modeling consistent with the reaction having occurred near the solidus of the rock (630–710°C, 8.8–12.4 kbar). Homogeneous mineral chemistry in reaction products indicates an open system, despite limited metasomatism at the hand sample scale. We propose the partial replacement microstructures are a result of a reaction involving an externally derived hydrous, silicate melt and the relatively anhydrous, high-grade assemblage. Trace element mapping reveals a correlation between reaction microstructure development and bands of high-Sr plagioclase, recording pathways of the reactant melt along grain boundaries. Replacement microstructures record pathways of diffuse porous melt flow at a kilometer scale within the lower crust, which was assisted by small proportions of incipient melt providing a permeable network. This work recognizes melt flux through the lower crust in the absence of significant metasomatism, which may be more common than is currently recognized. As similar microstructures are found elsewhere within the exposed Fiordland lower crustal arc rocks, mass transfer of melt by diffuse porous flow may have fluxed an area >10,000 km2.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3733-3753
Number of pages21
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Volume17
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • corona
  • diffuse porous melt flow
  • hydration
  • lower crust
  • mass transfer
  • melt migration

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