Trace-element zonation in garnets from The Thumb: heating and melt infiltration below the Colorado Plateau

Douglas Smith*, William L. Griffin, Chris G. Ryan, Soey H. Sie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Proton microprobe (PIXE) analysis of garnet, pyroxene, and olivine for Zr, Y, Ga, Ge, Sr, Ni, Mn and Zn has been combined with electron-probe and petrographic analysis to interpret the histories of garnetperidotite xenoliths from the minette neck at The Thumb on the Colorado Plateau. Garnet in seven rocks contains 10-110 ppm Zr and 25-95 ppm Ni. Substantial parts of these ranges are preserved in single, zoned garnets (Zr, 25-90 ppm; Ni, 25-60 ppm). Pyroxene and olivine are more homogeneous and equilibrated more quickly than granet to changing temperatures and metasomatic fluxes. The distribution coefficient of Ti between pyroxene and garnet rims may be sufficiently sensitive to pressure to be used as a geobarometer. Zirconium and Ti appear to have behaved similarly during melt infiltration and diffusion within garnet. Nickel in garnet is a sensitive recorder of temperature. A temperature of 900° C or less calculated from Ni in the cores of large garnets in one rock is at least as cool as that calculated for the Archaean Kaapvaal craton at similar depth, and the low temperature may be due to cooling of the Plateau lithosphere by the subducted Farallon plate. The zonation of these garnets to Ni-enriched rims has been simulated numerically by heating 260° C at 0.02°/year, followed by overgrowth of a rim and short annealing. Garnet in another rock records a temperature decrease of about 70° C, but Ni is more homogeneous in garnets in the other five rocks. The diverse temperature histories are attributed to local melt-mantle interactions. Calculated pressures and temperatures of xenoliths from The Thumb form a grouping similar to those for high-temperature parts of inflected geotherms in other xenolith suites, and the similarity is evidence for both the reality and the transients nature of the calculated inflections. Garnet that is zoned in Zr, Y, Ti and other elements preserves evidences for grain growth in response to melt infiltration in four of seven rocks. The ranges of both major and trace elements in the xenolith suite may be due largely to enrichment processes following earlier depletion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-79
Number of pages20
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1991
Externally publishedYes


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