Unraveling the record of successive high grade events in the Central Zone of the Limpopo Belt using Pb single phase dating of metamorphic minerals

L. Holzer, R. Frei, J. M. Barton, J. D. Kramers

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187 Citations (Scopus)


Dating of relic metamorphic assemblages can provide important information about the timing and character (metamorphic grade and/or PT-evolution) of early high grade episodes in polymetamorphic provinces. Using Pb stepwise leaching of metamorphic silicates, we have dated multiple granulite facies metamorphic episodes in the Central Zone (CZ) of the Limpopo Belt. Ages of 2.52 Ga were obtained from sillimanite and cogenetic garnet and ages of about 2.01 Ga from titanite, garnet and clinopyroxene. Together with new and published conventional age data from accessory phases and in the context of combined petrological and structural data, these results lead us to a reinterpretation of the tectono-metamorphic history of the CZ. Three distinct high grade events at about 3.2-3.1 Ga, 2.65-2.52 Ga and 2.0±0.05 Ga are recognized. Each of these is suggested to correspond to a tectonic episode of distinct character: (a) for the 3.2 Ga event magmatic activity can mainly be identified (best represented, for example, by the Sand River Gneisses or the Messina Layered Intrusion). The field relationships concerning the tectonometamorphic history of this Early-Archean event are largely erased by at least two high grade metamorphic overprints, (b) Late-Archean (∼2.6-2.52 Ga) low pressure granulite facies metamorphism was associated with voluminous granitic and charnockitic plutonism. The anticlockwise P-T evolution of these granulites probably reflects deep crustal processes, associated with magmatic underplating (or in-plating). contemporaneous with vertical crustal growth of the Zimbabwe craton around 2.6 Ga. (c) During the Proterozoic event (∼2.05-1.95 Ga) tectonic thickening was caused by the collision of the Kaapvaal and Zimbabwe cratons. The CZ was squeezed between these two cratons and as a consequence underwent high pressure granulite fades metamorphism with a clockwise P-T evolution. The structural, metamorphic and geochronological data can be best explained with a tectonic model that describes this final event as a dextral transpressive orogeny. C 1998 Elsevier Science B.V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-115
Number of pages29
JournalPrecambrian Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Archean
  • Geochronology
  • Granulite facies
  • Limpopo Belt
  • Palaeoproterozoic
  • Pb isotopes
  • Polymetamorphic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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