Chemical and textural equilibration of garnet during amphibolite facies metamorphism : the influence of coupled dissolution–reprecipitation

Dempster, Tim J and La Piazza, Julie and Taylor, Andrew G and Beaudoin, Nicolas and Chung, Peter (2017) Chemical and textural equilibration of garnet during amphibolite facies metamorphism : the influence of coupled dissolution–reprecipitation. Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 35 (9). pp. 1111-1130. ISSN 1525-1314 (

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Metamorphic equilibration requires chemical communication between minerals and may be inhibited through sluggish volume diffusion and or slow rates of dissolution in a fluid phase. Relatively slow diffusion and the perceived robust nature of chemical growth zoning may preclude garnet porphyroblasts from readily participating in low-temperature amphibolite facies metamorphic reactions. Garnet is widely assumed to be a reactant in staurolite-isograd reactions, and the evidence for this has been assessed in the Late Proterozoic Dalradian pelitic schists of the Scottish Highlands. The 3D imaging of garnet porphyroblasts in staurolite-bearing schists reveals a good crystal shape and little evidence of marginal dissolution; however, there is also lack of evidence for the involvement of either chlorite or chloritoid in the reaction. Staurolite forms directly adjacent to the garnet, and its nucleation is strongly associated with deformation of the muscovite-rich fabrics around the porphyroblasts. “Cloudy” fluid inclusion-rich garnet forms in both marginal and internal parts of the garnet porphyroblast and is linked both to the production of staurolite and to the introduction of abundant quartz inclusions within the garnet. Such cloudy garnet typically has a Mg-rich, Mn-poor composition and is interpreted to have formed during a coupled dissolution–reprecipitation process, triggered by a local influx of fluid. All garnet in the muscovite-bearing schists present in this area is potentially reactive, irrespective of the garnet composition, but very few of the schists contain staurolite. The staurolite-producing reaction appears to be substantially overstepped during the relatively high-pressure Barrovian regional metamorphism reflecting the limited permeability of the schists in peak metamorphic conditions. Fluid influx and hence reaction progress appear to be strongly controlled by subtle differences in deformation history. The remaining garnet fails to achieve chemical equilibrium during the reaction creating distinctive patchy compositional zoning. Such zoning in metamorphic garnet created during coupled dissolution–reprecipitation reactions may be difficult to recognize in higher grade pelites due to subsequent diffusive re-equilibration. Fundamental assumptions about metamorphic processes are questioned by the lack of chemical equilibrium during this reaction and the restricted permeability of the regional metamorphic pelitic schists. In addition, the partial loss of prograde chemical and textural information from the garnet porphyroblasts cautions against their routine use as a reliable monitor of metamorphic history. However, the partial re-equilibration of the porphyroblasts during coupled dissolution–reprecipitation opens possibilities of mapping reaction progress in garnet as a means of assessing fluid access during peak metamorphic conditions.