, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 257-276

Experimental determination of the fluid-absent melting relations in the pelitic system

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In order to provide additional constraints on models for partial melting of common metasediments, we have studied experimentally the melting of a natural metapelite under fluid-absent conditions. The starting composition contains quartz, plagioclase, biotite, muscovite, garnet, staurolite, and kyanite. Experiments were done in a halfinch piston-cylinder apparatus at 7, 10, and 12 kbar and at temperatures ranging from 750° to 1250° C. The following reactions account for the mineralogical changes observed at 10 kbar between 750° and 1250° C: Bi+Als+Pl+Q=L+Gt+(Kf), Ky=Sill, Gt+Als=Sp+Q, Gt=L+Sp+Q, and Sp+Q=L+Als.

The compositions of the phases (at T>875° C) were determined using an energy-dispersive system on a scanning electron microscope. The relative proportions of melt and crystals were calculated by mass balance and by processing images from the SEM. These constraints, together with other available experimental data, are used to propose a series of P-T, T-XH2O, and liquidus diagrams which represent a model for the fluid-present and fluid-absent melting of metapelites in the range 2–20 kbar and 600°–1250° C.

We demonstrate that, even under fluid-absent conditions, a large proportion (≈40%) of S-type granitic liquid is produced within a narrow temperature range (850°–875° C), as a result of the reaction Bi+Als+Pl+Q=L+Gt(+/-Kf). Such liquids, or at least some proportion of them, are likely to segregate from the source, leaving behind a residue composed of quartz, garnet, sillimanite, plagioclase, representing a characteristic assemblage of aluminous granulites.

The production of a large amount of melt at around 850° C also has the important effect of buffering the temperature of metamorphism. In a restitic, recycled, lower crust undergoing further metamorphism, temperature may reach values close to 1000° C due to the absence of this buffering effect. Partial melting is the main process leading to intracontinental differentiation. We discuss the crustal cross-section exposed in the North Pyrenean Zone in the context of our experiments and modelling.