DOI: 10.1111/jmg.12743 ISSN:

Long‐lived high‐grade metamorphism in southern India: Constraints from charnockites and sapphirine‐bearing semipelitic granulites from the Madurai Block

Ashish Kumar Tiwari, Tapabrato Sarkar, Sourav Karmakar, Nilanjana Sorcar, Sneha Mukherjee
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geology


The Granulite Terrane of Southern India is a collage of Mesoarchean–Neoproterozoic crustal blocks that underwent high‐grade metamorphism associated with the final assembly of the Gondwana supercontinent during late Neoproterozoic–Cambrian. Here, we investigate the charnockites and associated sapphirine‐bearing semipelitic granulites from the eastern part of the Madurai Block (MB). We present new petrographic, mineral chemistry, and geochronological data to constrain the PTt evolution of the block and unravel the timescale and source of heat for the ultrahigh‐temperature metamorphism. Both the rock types contain coarse‐grained porphyroblastic garnet and orthopyroxene, yielding peak PT conditions of 950 ± 30°C at 10.5 ± 0.8 kbar and 970 ± 40°C at 10 ± 0.5 kbar for semipelite and charnockite, respectively, using conventional thermobarometry. Peak ultrahigh temperatures are further supported by high Al content in the orthopyroxene (8.78 wt% Al2O3) coexisting with garnet (XMg: up to 0.57) and feldspar thermometry of the mesoperthites and antiperthites in the semipelite, yielding 950–980°C at 10 kbar. Subsequent decompression has led to the formation of coronal orthopyroxene3 + plagioclase3 in the charnockite and symplectic orthopyroxene3 + cordierite ± sapphirine ± plagioclase3 in the semipelite, yielding PT range of 950–850°C and 9.5–6.8 kbar for semipelites and 950–820°C and 8–6.5 kbar for charnockite. Based on the obtained PT estimates, preserved reaction textures, and phase equilibria modelling in the MnNCKFMASHTO system, a clockwise PT evolution with isothermal decompression followed by cooling is inferred for both the rock types.

Texturally constrained in situ monazite dating and rare earth element (REE) patterns show that the core of matrix monazite having low‐Th, Y, and extreme heavy rare earth element (HREE) depletion, yielding weighted mean ages of 582 ± 12 and 590 ± 22 Ma for semipelite and charnockite, respectively, dates the prograde evolution. The mantle of the matrix monazite in semipelite and comparable rim in charnockite, having relative Th‐enrichment compared to the core, yielding weighted mean ages of 552 ± 9 and 557 ± 13 Ma, respectively, dates extensive dissolution–reprecipitation from the melt at the peak stage. The relatively Th‐ and Y‐rich and moderately HREE‐depleted rim of matrix monazite in the semipelite, yielding weighted age of 516 ± 6 Ma, date initial garnet breakdown during post‐peak melt crystallization. By contrast, compositionally homogenous HREE + Y‐enriched monazite in the symplectite and retrograde monazites yielding weighted mean ages of 487 ± 47 Ma for semipelites and 508 ± 19 Ma for charnockites dates extensive garnet breakdown during final stages of melt crystallization and subsequent cooling. Our findings point to collision initiation at ~590 Ma, with the peak conditions attained at ~550 Ma followed by extensional collapse at ~510–490 Ma, resulting in rapid exhumation of lower crustal rocks to mid‐crustal levels under sustained ultrahigh‐temperature (UHT) conditions, followed by cooling to reach a stable geotherm. Our results suggest a long‐lived hot orogeny in the MB, where the UHT conditions were sustained for at least 40 MYr. The UHT conditions were most likely attained in the core of a long‐lived hot orogen by the combined effect of conductive heating through radioactive decay and mantle heat supply, with the former being the primary driver.

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