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Redistribution of trace elements during prograde metamorphism from lawsonite blueschist to eclogite facies; implications for deep subduction-zone processes

Abstract

The transfer of fluid and elements from subducting crust to the overlying mantle wedge is a fundamental process affecting arc magmatism and the chemical differentiation of the Earth. While the production of fluid by breakdown of hydrous minerals is well understood, the liberation of trace elements remains generally unconstrained. In this paper, we evaluate the behaviour of trace elements during prograde metamorphism and dehydration using samples of high-pressure, low-temperature metamorphic rocks from New Caledonia. Samples examined include mafic and pelitic rock-types that range in grade from lawsonite blueschist to eclogite facies, and represent typical lithologies of subducting crust. Under lawsonite blueschist facies conditions, the low temperatures of metamorphism inhibit equilibrium partitioning between metamorphic minerals and allow for the persistence of igneous and detrital minerals. Despite this, the most important hosts for trace-elements include lawsonite, (REE, Pb, Sr), titanite (REE, Nb, Ta), allanite (LREE, U, Th), phengite (LILE) and zircon (Zr, Hf). At epidote blueschist to eclogite facies conditions, trace-element equilibrium may be attained and epidote (REE, Sr, Th, U, Pb), garnet (HREE), rutile (Nb, Ta), phengite (LILE) and zircon (Zr, Hf) are the major trace-element hosts. Chlorite, albite, amphibole and omphacite contain very low concentrations of the investigated trace elements. The comparison of mineral trace-element data and bulk-rock data at different metamorphic grades indicates that trace elements are not liberated in significant quantities by prograde metamorphism up to eclogite facies. Combining our mineral trace-element data with established phase equilibria, we show that the trace elements considered are retained by newly-formed major and accessory minerals during mineral breakdown reactions to depths of up to 150 km. In contrast, significant volumes of fluid are released by dehydration reactions. Therefore, there is a decoupling of fluid release and trace element release in subducting slabs. We suggest that the flux of trace elements from the slab is not simply linked to mineral breakdown, but results from complex fluid-rock interactions and fluid-assisted partial melting in the slab.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Australian Research Council and the Australian National University. The authors wish to thank Geoff Clarke for guidance during fieldwork and Frank Brink and Nick Ware for analytical assistance. Critical reviews by Thomas Zack and Harry Becker have greatly improved the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Carl Spandler.

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Spandler, C., Hermann, J., Arculus, R. et al. Redistribution of trace elements during prograde metamorphism from lawsonite blueschist to eclogite facies; implications for deep subduction-zone processes. Contrib Mineral Petrol 146, 205–222 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00410-003-0495-5

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Keywords

  • Rutile
  • Titanite
  • Mantle Wedge
  • Electronic Supplementary Table
  • Prograde Metamorphism