Integrated garnet and zircon–titanite geochronology constrains the evolution of ultra-high–pressure terranes: An example from the Sulu orogen

Da Wang, Jeffrey D. Vervoort, Christopher M. Fisher, Hui Cao, Guangxu Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Dating ultra-high–pressure (UHP) metamorphic rocks provides important timing constraints on deep subduction zone processes. Eclogites, deeply subducted rocks now exposed at the surface, undergo a wide range of metamorphic conditions (i.e. deep subduction and exhumation) and their mineralogy can preserve a detailed record of chronologic information of these dynamic processes. Here, we present an approach that integrates multiple radiogenic isotope systems in the same sample to provide a more complete timeline for the subduction–collision–exhumation processes, based on eclogites from the Dabie–Sulu orogenic belt in eastern China, one of the largest UHP terranes on Earth. In this study, we integrate garnet Lu–Hf and Sm–Nd ages with zircon and titanite U–Pb ages for three eclogite samples from the Sulu UHP terrane. We combine this age information with Zr-in-rutile temperature estimates, and relate these multiple chronometers to different P–T conditions. Two types of rutile, one present as inclusions in garnet and the other in the matrix, record the temperatures of UHP conditions and a hotter stage, subsequent to the peak pressure (‘hot exhumation') respectively. Garnet Lu–Hf ages (c. 238–235 Ma) record the initial prograde growth of garnet, while coupled Sm–Nd ages (c. 219–213 Ma) reflect cooling following hot exhumation. The maximum duration of UHP conditions is constrained by the age difference of these two systems in garnet (c. 235–220 Ma). Complementary zircon and titanite U–Pb ages of c. 235–230 Ma and c. 216–206 Ma provide further constraints on the timing of prograde metamorphism and the ‘cold exhumation' respectively. We demonstrate that timing of various metamorphic stages can thus be determined by employing complementary chronometers from the same samples. These age results, combined with published data from adjacent areas, show lateral diachroneity in the Dabie–Sulu orogeny. Three sub-blocks are thus defined by progressively younger garnet ages: western Dabie (243–238 Ma), eastern Dabie–northern Sulu (238–235 Ma) and southern Sulu terranes (225–220 Ma), which possibly correlate to different crustal slices in the recently proposed subduction channel model. These observed lateral chronologic variations in a large UHP terrane can possibly be extended to other suture zones.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)611-631
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


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