Retrogressed lawsonite blueschists from the NW Iberian Massif: PTt constraints from thermodynamic modelling and 40Ar/39Ar geochronology

  • Alicia López-CarmonaEmail author
  • Jacobo Abati
  • Pavel Pitra
  • James K. W. Lee
Original Paper


Blueschist facies terranes in the Variscan Ibero-Armorican Arc are restricted to scarce and relatively small areas. One of these examples is the Ceán Unit, which is the westernmost exposure of the middle allochthonous sheet of the Variscan belt in the Malpica–Tui Complex (NW Iberian Massif). The Ceán Unit is a highly condensed metamorphic succession with a lower part in the blueschist facies and an upper part without HP relicts. It comprises variable proportions of glaucophane–chloritoid-bearing metapelites and mafic rocks with abundant well-preserved pseudomorphs after euhedral lawsonite. Both lithologies show systematic changes in texture and mineral composition that are spatially related depending on deformation. The metamorphic evolution of the metabasic rocks has been constrained in the PT space through pseudosection approach and is characterised by H2O-undersaturated prograde evolution induced by the crystallisation of lawsonite. Peak conditions in the blueschist/LT-eclogite facies have been constrained at ca. 2.2 GPa and 560 °C. Exhumation-related metamorphism is characterised by a nearly isothermal decompression from the lawsonite-bearing fields to fields with stable albite at P ≈ 1 GPa. This lead to the pseudomorphism of lawsonite in the early-decompression stages, and a subsequent amphibolite–greenschist facies overprint at P < 0.8 GPa and T ≈ 440–480 °C. The preservation of the lawsonite crystal shape despite complete retrogression indicates that pseudomorphism occurred as a static process and that particular levels of the blueschist host rock were not affected by penetrative deformation during exhumation. 40Ar/39Ar step heating of phengitic muscovite from the pelitic schists interbedded with the lawsonite pseudomorph-bearing metabasic rocks yield plateau ages of ca. 363 ± 2 and 354 ± 1 Ma. The older age is interpreted as the age of the peak blueschist facies metamorphism. The age of 355 Ma is interpreted as a cooling age and is inferred to represent some point relatively close to peak conditions at the onset of the isothermal decompression. 40Ar/39Ar dating of muscovite from the quartzo-feldspathic mylonites of the Bembibre–Ceán detachment, at the base of the Ceán Unit, yields an age of ca. 337 ± 3 Ma, interpreted as the age of the post-nappe extensional tectonics. Similar data obtained from the blueschists of Ile de Groix (Armorican Massif; Bosse et al. in Chem Geol 220:21–45, 2005) support the equivalence of the Ceán Unit and the Upper Unit of Ile de Groix along the Ibero-Armorican Arc and suggest that these units share a blueschist facies event constrained at ca. 360–370 Ma, that is inferred to represent the Late Devonian–Early Carboniferous subduction of the northern margin of Gonwana beneath Laurussia.


Lawsonite blueschist Pseudomorphs after lawsonite H2Ibero-Armorican Arc 



We thank C. Valdehita from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid for her technical support and advices in 40Ar/39Ar mineral separation. We appreciate the technical assistance of D.A. Archibald and H. Fournier from the Queen’s University 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology Laboratory. We are grateful to G. Gutiérrez-Alonso and J.Fernández-Suárez that kindly allow us to use their unpublished age constraints. Stimulating discussions with A. García-Casco, J.R. Martínez Catalán, M. Ballèvre and R. Arenas has considerably enriched the quality of this manuscript. We wish to thank the Executive Editor Dr. Tim Grove, Dr. Clare Warren and an anonymous referee, for their constructive comments and suggestions. This work was financially supported by the Spanish Project CGL2012-34618 (Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad) and an NSERC Discovery grant to JKWL.

Supplementary material

410_2014_987_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 32 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM2_ESM.doc (86 kb)
Table 2 Representative microprobe analyses in the minerals of the matrix foliation (S2) from sample CA. C–core; R–rim; g P-tail–crystallization tails; lawps pseudomorphs after lawsonite (DOC 86 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM3_ESM.doc (90 kb)
Table 3 Representative microprobe analyses in the inclusions in garnet (S1 and S2 foliations in g1 and g2, respectively) from sample CA. C–core; R–rim (DOC 89 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM4_ESM.doc (73 kb)
Table 4 Representative microprobe analyses in the minerals of the lawsonite pseudomoprhs from sample CA. C–core; R–rim (DOC 73 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM5_ESM.doc (86 kb)
Table 5 Representative microprobe analyses in the minerals of the albite porphyroblasts from sample AG. C–core; R–rim (DOC 86 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM6_ESM.doc (67 kb)
Table 6 Summary of the 40Ar/39Ar step-heating results and representative microprobe analysis on muscovites from samples MT1 and LM. XK = K/(Ca + Na + K); XCa = Ca/(Ca + Na + K). Mineral formulas were calculated using AX software (Holland and Powell, 2000 in Powell and Holland 2002 http:/ (DOC 67 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM7_ESM.xls (37 kb)
Table 7 40Ar/39Ar analyses on muscovite concentrates from sample MT1. The plateau was inferred considering the steps indicated in bold italics. The age spectrum is shown in Fig. 7a (XLS 37 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM8_ESM.xls (36 kb)
Table 8 40Ar/39Ar analyses on muscovite concentrates from sample LM. The plateau was inferred considering the steps indicated in bold italics. The age spectrum is shown in Fig. 7b (XLS 36 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM9_ESM.xls (38 kb)
Table 9 40Ar/39Ar analyses on muscovite concentrates from sample LM. The plateau was inferred considering the steps indicated in bold italics. The age spectrum is shown in Fig. 7c (XLS 38 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM10_ESM.xls (34 kb)
Table 10 40Ar/39Ar analyses of a single grain of muscovite from sample LM. The plateau was inferred considering the steps indicated in bold italics. The age spectrum is shown in Fig. 7d (XLS 33 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM11_ESM.tif (37.2 mb)
Idealized stratigraphic column for the Ceán Unit in the Malpica–Tui Complex. Photographs showing field aspects of the Bembibre–Ceán Detachment (a), metasediments intercalated with metavolcanics (b), Ceán pelitic schists (c and k) and Cambre metabasic rocks (d-j). The intermediate part of the sequence is dominated by lawsonite and garnet-bearing amphibolites (d-f) that going upwards grade into greenschists with garnet porphyroblasts (g, i) that contain epidote-rich layers (h). The top of the succession is dominated by greenschists with albite porphyroblasts (j) and bituminous schists without garnet (k). Stars and arrows indicate the location of the photographs in each level. Sample locations are also indicated. The stratigraphic column is modified from Díez Fernández (2011) (TIFF 38141 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM12_ESM.tif (25.2 mb)
Back-scattered electron images showing detailed textures in the Cambre metabasic rocks. (a) ilm replacing ru in the matrix foliation; (b-c) symplectitic intergrowth of Ca-amphiboles and ab in the S2-foliation; (d-e) Zoned amphiboles in crystallization tails in garnet; (f) act grain showing exolution lamellae of hb in the outermost rim of a type 2 garnet porphyroblast; (g) pa + mu intergrowth inside a cluster in a law-pseudomorph; (h) Incipient sph coronae around ru. Mineral abbreviations are after Holland and Powell (1998) (TIFF 25796 kb)
410_2014_987_MOESM13_ESM.tif (7.7 mb)
X-Ray maps and chemical profiles illustrating zoning of garnet porphyroblasts from the Cambre metabasic rocks. (a) Euhedral porphyroblasts displaying an optical zoning interpreted as types 1 and 2 garnets (profile 1). (b) Subidioblastic type 2 garnet grains in the matrix foliation (profile 2) and (c) included in the pseudomorphs (profiles 3). Thick dashed lines on the X-ray maps indicate the position of the profiles. C–core; R–rim (TIFF 7909 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alicia López-Carmona
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Jacobo Abati
    • 1
  • Pavel Pitra
    • 2
  • James K. W. Lee
    • 3
  1. 1.Departamento de Petrología y Geoquímica (UCM)Instituto de Geociencias (IGEO-CSIC)MadridSpain
  2. 2.Géosciences RennesUMR 6118Rennes CedexFrance
  3. 3.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesMacquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

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