P-T paths and problems of high-temperature polymetamorphism

L. L. Perchuk, T. V. Gerya, D. D. Van Reenen, C. A. Smit

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Many Precambrian granulite-facies metamorphic complexes contain so-called straight gneisses, which are massive rocks with a clearly pronounced blastomylonitic texture, lineation, and gneissosity. These rocks occur exclusively in high-temperature ductile shear zones, which can develop either during the primary exhumation of rock complexes or during the overprinting by high-temperature dynamometamorphism. The main criterion for distinguishing between these two types of straight gneisses is the configuration of their P-T trajectories, which are recorded in the mineral assemblages in these rocks and their host gneisses. Ductile shear zones developed in Archean granulite gneisses simultaneously with their exhumation, and, hence, their P-T trajectories are segments of decompression and/or isobaric cooling paths. Straight gneisses in Proterozoic polymetamorphic complexes commonly compose high-temperature ductile shear zones overprinted on Archean granulite complexes, and the P-T paths of these rocks are Z-shaped. This means that, at a constant pressure in the middle part of the continental crust, the T min of the older P-T trajectory corresponded to T max of the younger trajectory, and often T max-T min > 100°C. Such ductile shear zones commonly have a strike-slip morphology and can be easily seen in aerial photographs and discerned during structural geological surveying. These zones can overprint older gneisses without any notable thermal effect on the latter. Relations of this type were identified in the granulite complexes of Limpopo in South Africa, Sharyzhalgai in the southwestern Baikal area, and Lapland in the Kola Peninsula. The results of our research propose a solution for the well-known problem of the significant discrepancies between the isotopic ages in high-temperature-high-pressure complexes and the partial or complete distortion of radiogenic isotopic systems under the effect of a newly inflowing metamorphic fluid. The application of geochronologic techniques to these situations is senseless, and only P-T trajectories provide insight into the actual age relations between the discrete tectono-metamorphic stages. It is thus expedient to conduct not only structural studies of metamorphic complexes but also their detailed petrological examination and the calculation of their P-T paths before geochronologic dating.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-153
Number of pages37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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