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Grenvillian age decompression of eclogites in the Glenelg-Attadale Inlier, NW Scotland

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  • Earth Sciences
  • Earth Science


The Glenelg–Attadale Inlier is the largest basement inlier within the Caledonian Moine nappe of NW Scotland. In the eastern part of the inlier amphibolite-facies retrogression of the eclogites is associated with tectonic fabrics, and P–T estimates indicate significant decompression (c. 20 km). Previous Sm–Nd mineral–whole-rock dates indicated that peak eclogite-facies metamorphism occurred around c. 1.08 Ga, which was correlated with the Grenvillian orogeny. However, the middle REE enrichment of the analysed garnets suggests the influence of apatite inclusions. It is therefore likely that the interpretation of the c. 1.08 Ga age is complex, possibly reflecting re-equilibration at lower temperatures. Sampled eclogites contain zircon in a number of distinct textural forms that are mainly associated with pargasite and plagioclase, and are part of the retrograde amphibolite-facies assemblages. Titanite extensively replaces rutile, and is clearly associated with the retrograde amphibolite-facies event. A second textural type of titanite forms anhedral grains with plagioclase and pargasite, which is developed where the retrograde amphibolite-facies assemblage overprints the eclogite mineralogy. U–Pb dating has yielded the following ages: zircon age of 995 ± 8 Ma, and variably discordant rutile ages between 416 and 480 Ma. U–Pb and Pb–Pb isochrons on titanite and plagioclase/quartz separates yielded ages of 971 ± 65 Ma and 945 ± 57 Ma, respectively, in agreement with the zircon age. Analysed zircons and titanites are texturally part of the amphibolite-facies assemblage. The new zircon age demonstrates that amphibolite-facies metamorphism during exhumation occurred at 995 ± 8 Ma; the titanites could have closed with respect to Pb at this time or alternatively at some time between c. 1000 and 900 Ma. These data clearly demonstrate that parts of the Scottish basement underwent major thick-skinned tectonics during the Grenvillian orogeny. Rutile is part of the eclogite-facies paragenesis, and yet has young ages; these data are best explained by reheating producing near-total Pb loss related to emplacement of the late- to post-tectonic Ratagain Granite Complex at c. 425 Ma, at the end of the Caledonian orogeny.

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