Fluid-assisted granulite metamorphism: a continental journey
Huizenga, Jan Marten
Touret, Jacques L.R.
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Lower crustal granulites, which constitute the base of all continents, belong to two series: high-pressure granulites generated by crustal thickening (subduction) and (ultra)high-temperature granulites associated with crustal extension. Fluid inclusions and metasomatic features indicate that the latter were metamorphosed in the presence of low-water activity fluids (high-density CO2 and brines), which have invaded the lower crust at peak metamorphic conditions (fluid-assisted granulite metamorphism). High-pressure and (ultra)high-temperature granulites commonly occur along elongated paired belts. They were formed, from the early Proterozoic onwards, during a small number of active periods lasting a few hundreds of m.y. These periods were separated from each other by longer periods of stability. Each period ended with the formation of a supercontinent whose amalgamation coincided with low- to medium pressure (ultra)high-temperature granulite metamorphism, immediately before continental break-up. It is proposed that large quantities of mantle-derived CO2 stored in the lower crust at the final stage of supercontinent amalgamation, are released into the hydro- and atmosphere during breakup of the supercontinent. Fluid-assisted granulite metamorphism, therefore, appears to be an important mechanism for transferring deep mantle fluids towards the Earth's surface. Possible consequences were, for example, the sudden end of Proterozoic glaciations, as well as the post-Cambrian explosion of life.