Thermobarometry and P–T–t paths: the granulite to eclogite transition in lower crustal xenoliths from eastern Australia


*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


‘Lower crustal’ suite xenoliths in basaltic and kimberlitic magmas are dominated by mafic granulites and may also include eclogites and garnet pyroxenites. Pressures of up to 25 kbar obtained from such xenoliths are well in excess of an upper value of c. 12 kbar for exposed granulite terranes. Palaeogeotherms constructed from xenoliths for the lower crust beneath the Phanerozoic fold belts of eastern Australia (SEA) and beneath the eastern margin of the Australian craton (EMAC) indicate two distinct thermal regimes. The two geotherms have similar form, with the EMAC curve displaced c. 150°C to lower temperatures. Reaction microstructures show the partial re‐equilibration of primary igneous assemblages to granulite and eclogite assemblages and are interpreted to reflect the cooling from magmatic temperatures. Variations in mineral compositions and zoning are used to constrain further the history of several EMAC xenoliths to near‐isobaric trajectories. Detailed graphical models are constructed to predict compositional changes for isobaric P–T paths (at 7, 14 & 21 kbar) to transform an SEA‐type geotherm to a cratonic geotherm. The models show that for the assemblage grt + cpx ± ky + plag + qtz, the changes associated with falling temperature in Xgr, Xjd (increase) and Xan (decrease) will be greater at higher pressures. These results indicate that discernible zoning is more likely to be preserved in the higher pressure xenoliths. The zoning recorded in clinopyroxene from mafic granulite xenoliths over the pressure range c. 12–22 kbar suggests isobaric cooling of a large crustal thickness (30–35 km). An isobaric cooling path is consistent with magma accretion models for the transition of a crust–mantle boundary from an SEA‐type geotherm to a cratonic geotherm. The coexistence of granulite and eclogite over the depth range 35–75 km beneath the EMAC indicates that the granulite to eclogite transition in the lower crust is controlled by P–T conditions, bulk chemistry and kinetic factors. At shallower crustal levels, typified by exposed granulite terranes, isobaric cooling may not result in the transition to eclogite.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-359
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • eclogite
  • geothermobarometry
  • granulite
  • lower crust
  • P–T–t path


Dive into the research topics of 'Thermobarometry and P–T–t paths: the granulite to eclogite transition in lower crustal xenoliths from eastern Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this