Pressure-temperature evolution of a Late Palaeozoic paired metamorphic belt in North-Central Chile (34°-35°30′S)

  • Wilner A
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In the Chilean Coastal Cordillera, two units, the Western and Eastern Series, constitute coeval parts of a Late Palaeozoic paired metamorphic belt dominated by siliciclastic metasediments. The Western Series also contains rocks from the upper oceanic crust and represents an accretionary prism. Omnipresent high-pressure conditions are reflected by Na–Ca-amphibole and phengite in greenschists. Peak PT conditions of 7·0–9·3 kbar, 380–420°C point to a metamorphic gradient of 11–16°C/km. Three unique occurrences of blueschist yield deviating conditions of 9·5–10·7 kbar, 350–385°C and are interpreted as relics from the lowermost part of the basal accretion zone preserving the original gradient of 9–11°C/km along the subducting slab. Pervasive ductile deformation related to basal accretion occurred near peak PT conditions. Deformation and PT evolution of the metapsammopelitic rocks is similar to that of the metabasites. However, a rare garnet mica-schist yields peak PT conditions of 9·6–14·7 kbar, 390–440°C reflecting a retrograde stage after cooling from a high-temperature garnet-forming stage. It is considered to be an exhumed relic from the earliest siliciclastic rocks subducted below a still hot mantle wedge. A retrograde overprint of all rock types occurred at ∼300–380°C. Continuous reactions caused crystal growth and recrystallization with abundant free water mostly under strain-free conditions. They record a pressure release of 3–4 kbar without erasing peak metamorphic mineral compositions. The Eastern Series lacks metabasite intercalations and represents a less deformed retro-wedge area. In the study area it was entirely overprinted at a uniform depth at 3 ± 0·5 kbar with temperatures progressively rising from 400°C to 720°C towards the coeval Late Palaeozoic magmatic arc batholith. The interrelated pattern of PT data permits a conceptual reconstruction of the fossil convergent margin suggesting a flat subduction angle of ∼25° with continuous basal accretion at a depth of 25–40 km and a short main intrusion pulse in the magmatic arc. The latter was accompanied by the formation of a thermal dome in the retro-wedge area, which remained stable relative to the vertically growing accretionary prism characterized by cyclic mass flow.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Blueschist
  • Central Chile
  • Greenschist
  • Paired metamorphic belt
  • Thermobarometry

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  • Arne P. Wilner

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