Transition from subduction- to exhumation-related fabrics in glaucophane-bearing eclogites, Oman: evidence from relative fabric chronology and 40Ar/39Ar ages

D.R. Gray, John Miller, D.A. Foster, R.T. Gregory

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    Controversy over the age of peak metamorphism and therefore the tectonic evolution of the Arabian margin relates to the polydeformed and polymetamorphosed nature of glaucophane-bearing eclogites from the Saih Hatat window beneath the allochthonous Samail ophiolite in NE Oman. These eclogites contain relicts of earlier fabrics, structures and metamorphic assemblages and provide a record of change from subduction to exhumation. The eclogites are part of a mafic layer that was disrupted into boudins up to 0.5 km in length within a lower plate shear zone (As Sifah shear zone). The megaboudins not only preserve the relicts of the highest grade of metamorphism but also an early ENE-trending lineation and sheathlike isoclines enveloped by the flat-lying schistosity. The boudin-bearing layer is isoclinally folded with calc-schist, mafic schist and quartz–mica schist, where the regional folds have axes parallel to the NE-trending stretching lineation (a-type folds). Textural evidence suggests multiple growth events for garnet and clinopyroxene, requiring polymetamorphism of the mafic layers that formed the eclogite megaboudins. The surrounding calc-schist and quartz–mica schist are both intensely deformed with transposition foliation containing an NE-trending lineation in phengite and asymmetric shear indicators such as C′-type shear bands and asymmetric pressure shadows around garnets, that give top-to-the-NE sense of shear. Although consistent ENE-trending lineations in all the boudins suggest that they have largely acted as passive, nonrotating rigid bodies, the presence of NE-vergent asymmetric mesofolds, extensive dynamic recrystallisation, multiple generations of phengites and a range of 40Ar–39Ar apparent ages within the megaboudins suggest, however, that they have not acted entirely passively during the later deformation. Phengites isolated from the high-P/low-T fabrics show groupings in 40Ar–39Ar apparent ages interpreted as distinct metamorphic/cooling intervals at ∼140–135, ∼120–98 and ∼ 92–80 Ma. Microstructural relations suggest that age groupings younger than 100 Ma reflect phengite growth during exhumation with the top-to-the-NE shearing. The older ages (∼120–110 Ma) from fabrics that give top-to-the-S shear sense may reflect growth during the subduction phase. The combination of groupings of apparent argon ages older than the crystallisation age of the Samail Ophiolite, the suggestion of different geothermal gradients, and superposed metamorphism suggest that the eclogites and garnet blueschists formed as a result of underthrusting along a break that was not directly related to the metamorphic sole of the ophiolite. The glaucophane–eclogites are interpreted as having formed at different times under varying pressure–temperature conditions during underthrusting with variations in the rate of underthrusting, allowing thermal equilibration and/or rapid cooling at different crustal levels.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)35-64
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

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