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Continental exhumation triggered by partial melting at ultrahigh pressure

Abstract : Partial melting textures, observed in most continental crust buried in ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) conditions, have mostly been related to their retrograde evolution during exhumation in collisional orogens. Analysis of leucosomes from the Western Gneiss Region (WGR, Norway) UHP and HP domains in the Caledonides show a wide scatter of their chemistries, from early ones close to trondhjemites restricted to UHP domains, to granites in late occurrences or associated with HP domains. Nearly trondhjemitic compositions compare with hydrous melts produced in felsic systems at high pressure (>2 GPa) and moderate temperature (<900 °C). Partial melting experiments at higher temperatures or in dry conditions produce granitic glasses similar to late leucosomes from the WGR. Comparison of pressure-temperature paths for Caledonian eclogites with melting and dehydration reactions for the surrounding gneiss suggest that (1) the continental crust remained partially hydrated during its subduction to ultrahigh pressure, and (2) partial melting reactions producing the trondhjemitic melts started as soon as the WGR rocks reached their hydrated solidus, at the peak pressure recorded by the eclogites. The limited partial melting degree at the peak conditions induced weakening of the continental crust, decoupling from the lithospheric root, and initiation of exhumation.
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Loic Labrousse, Gaëlle Prouteau, Anne-Céline Ganzhorn. Continental exhumation triggered by partial melting at ultrahigh pressure. Geology, Geological Society of America, 2011, 39 (12), pp.1171-1174. ⟨10.1130/G32316.1⟩. ⟨insu-00639605⟩

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