Clumped isotope thermometry of calcite and dolomite in a contact metamorphic environment

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Abstract

Clumped isotope compositions of slowly-cooled calcite and dolomite marbles record apparent equilibrium temperatures of roughly 150–200 °C and 300–350 °C, respectively. Because clumped isotope compositions are sensitive to the details of T–t path within these intervals, measurements of the Δ47 values of coexisting calcite and dolomite can place new constraints on thermal history of low-grade metamorphic rocks over a large portion of the upper crust (from ∼5 to ∼15 km depth). We studied the clumped isotope geochemistry of coexisting calcite and dolomite in marbles from the Notch Peak contact metamorphic aureole, Utah. Here, flat-lying limestones were intruded by a pluton, producing a regular, zoned metamorphic aureole. Calcite Δ47 temperatures are uniform, 156 ± 12 °C (2σ s.e.), across rocks varying from high-grade marbles that exceeded 500 °C to nominally unmetamorphosed limestones >5 km from the intrusion. This result appears to require that the temperature far from the pluton was close to this value; an ambient temperature just 20 °C lower would not have permitted substantial re-equilibration, and should have preserved depositional or early diagenetic Δ47 values several km from the pluton. Combining this result with depth constraints from overlying strata suggests the country rock here had an average regional geotherm of 22.3–27.4 °C/km from the late Jurassic Period until at least the middle Paleogene Period. Dolomite Δ47 in all samples above the talc + tremolite-in isograd record apparent equilibrium temperatures of 328-12+13°C (1σ s.e.), consistent with the apparent equilibrium blocking temperature we expect for cooling from peak metamorphic conditions. At greater distances, dolomite Δ47 records temperatures of peak (anchi)metamorphism or pre-metamorphic diagenetic conditions. The interface between these domains is the location of the 330 °C isotherm associated with intrusion. Multiple-phase clumped isotope measurements are complemented by bulk δ13C and δ18O dolomite–calcite thermometry. These isotopic exchange thermometers are largely consistent with peak temperatures in all samples within 4 km of the contact, indicating that metamorphic recrystallization can occur even in samples too low-grade to produce growth of conventional metamorphic index minerals (i.e., talc and tremolite). Altogether, this work demonstrates the potential of these methods to quantify the conditions of metamorphism at sub-greenschist facies.

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Lloyd, M. K., Eiler, J. M., & Nabelek, P. I. (2017). Clumped isotope thermometry of calcite and dolomite in a contact metamorphic environment. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 197, 323–344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gca.2016.10.037

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