A review of the pressure-temperature-time evolution of the Limpopo Belt: Constraints for a tectonic model

M. Rigby, H. Mouri, G. Brandl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Published literature argues that the Limpopo Belt can be subdivided into three zones, each with a distinctive geological character and tectono-metamorphic fingerprint. There are currently two contrasting schools of thought regarding the tectono-metamorphic evolution of the CZ. One camp argues that geochronological, structural and prograde pressure-temperature (P-T) evidence collectively indicate that the CZ underwent tectono-metamorphism at ca. 2.0 Ga which followed a clockwise P-T evolution during a transpressive orogeny that was initiated by the collision of the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe cratons. Deformation and metamorphism consistent with this scenario are observed in the southern part of the NMZ but are curiously absent from the whole of the SMZ. The opposing view argues that the peak metamorphism associated with the collision of the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe cratons occurred at ca. 2.6 Ga and the later metamorphic event is an overprint associated with reactivation along Archean shear zones. Post-peak-metamorphic conditions, which at present cannot be convincingly related to either a ca. 2.6 or 2.0 Ga event in the CZ reveal contrasting retrograde paths implying either near-isothermal decompression and isobaric cooling associated with a 'pop-up' style of exhumation or steady decompression-cooling linked to exhumation controlled by erosion. Recent data argue that the prograde evolution of the ca. 2.0 Ga event is characterised by isobaric heating prior to decompression-cooling. Contrasting P-T paths indicate that either different units exist within the CZ that underwent different P-T evolutions or that some P-T work is erroneous due to the application of equilibrium thermobarometry to mineral assemblages that are not in equilibrium. The morphology of the P-T path(s) for the ca. 2.6-2.52 Ga event are also a matter of dispute. Some workers have postulated an anticlockwise P-T evolution during this period whilst others regard this metamorphic event as following a clockwise evolution. Granitoid magmatism is broadly contemporaneous in all three zones at ca. 2.7-2.5 suggesting a possible causal geodynamic link. P-T contrasts between and within the respective zones prevent, at present, the construction of a coherent and inter-related tectonic model that can account for all of the available evidence. Detailed and fully-integrated petrological and geochronological studies are required to produce reliable P-T-t paths that may resolve some of these pertinent issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-132
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of African Earth Sciences
Issue number2-4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Geochronology
  • Limpopo belt
  • Metamorphism
  • P-T-t paths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


Dive into the research topics of 'A review of the pressure-temperature-time evolution of the Limpopo Belt: Constraints for a tectonic model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this