Migmatite gneiss of the Jættedal complex, Liverpool Land, East Greenland

protracted high-T metamorphism in the overriding plate of the Caledonian orogen

S. M. Johnston*, A. Kylander-Clark, H. K. Brueckner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Greenland Caledonides (GC) formed in the overriding Laurentian plate during the closure of the Iapetus Ocean and the subduction of Baltica, and offer a unique opportunity to study metamorphic patterns, regional structures and the kinematic evolution of the overriding plate of a continental collision. We present new metamorphic petrology and coupled zircon geochronology and geochemistry data from the Jættedal complex in southern Liverpool Land to document the thermal evolution of the orogenic core of the southern GC. Pelitic migmatite gneisses from the Jættedal complex document metamorphic conditions of 850-730 °C at pressures of 11-9.5 kbar. Zircon from these samples yields Archean-Mesoproterozoic detrital cores with positive heavy rare earth element (HREE) slopes, and 440-425 Ma rims with flat HREE slopes are interpreted to date the timing of prograde pelite anatexis. Intercalated mafic assemblages record metamorphic conditions of 860-820 °C at 12-10 kbar. Zircon from mafic gneisses contains cores with ages of c. 458 Ma with positive HREE slopes and 413-411 Ma rims with flat HREE slopes that are interpreted to record the timing of original mafic dyke intrusion and subsequent partial melting respectively. When placed in the context of correlative rocks from the southern GC, these results suggest the development of a thermally weakened lower to middle crust in the Caledonian overriding plate that spanned >200 km perpendicular to orogenic strike during the Silurian. The existing data further suggest Silurian syn-orogenic channel flow and exhumation occurred at the thrust front, while protracted high-T metamorphism continued in the orogenic core. These patterns highlight variations in the thermal and rheologic structure of the Caledonian overriding plate along orogenic strike, and have implications for the development and exhumation of high- and ultrahigh-pressure terranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1025-1046
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Granulite facies anatexis
  • Greenland Caledonides
  • Jættedal complex
  • Liverpool Land
  • Zircon petrochronology

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