Problems with inferring P-T-t paths in low-P granulite facies rocks

R. H. Vernon*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    Microstructural evidence commonly is used to infer metamorphic reactions, which are used to infer pressure-temperature-time (P-T-t) paths. However, this approach in low-P/high-T (LPHT) granulite facies metamorphic terranes has two main problems. (1) Microstructural evidence may be inconclusive, so that reactions cannot be inferred with confidence. In particular, relative timing of mineral growth inferred from inclusions, moulding relationships and foliation-porphyroblast relationships is commonly ambiguous or invalid. The most reliable indicators of metamorphic reactions are partial pseudomorphs and corona structures, especially if symplectic intergrowths (indicating simultaneous growth of two or more minerals) are involved. (2) Even reactions that can be inferred with confidence do not indicate unique P-T trends, owing to P-T slopes of reaction curves. Where successive reactions can be shown to have occurred in the same rock, a line or curve joining reaction-curve intersections gives an apparent single-event path. However, isotopic evidence is needed to prove that polymetamorphism (involving more complex paths making fortuitous intersections with the apparent single-event path) did not occur. Although these problems are well known, their importance is not always emphasized in metamorphic investigations. The difficulties are illustrated by published work on P-T-t paths for Proterozoic LPHT granulite facies rocks of central Australia and Antarctica. Recent work in Antarctica has shown that P-T-t paths may be episodic and more complex than the simple, single-event paths commonly inferred from microstructural evidence alone.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)143-153
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 1996


    • Antarctica
    • Arunta Inlier
    • Central Australia
    • Low-P metamorphism
    • Microstructure
    • P-T-t path
    • Polymetamorphism
    • Reactions


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