Rapid eclogitisation of the Dabie–Sulu UHP terrane: Constraints from Lu–Hf garnet geochronology
The Qinling–Dabie–Sulu orogenic belt in eastern China is one of the largest ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) terranes worldwide. Mineral Sm–Nd- and zircon U–Pb dating has been widely used to reveal the metamorphic history of this collisional orogen. However, the exact timing of the UHP metamorphic event(s) remains controversial and ages ranging from 245 Ma to 220 Ma have been suggested. We present high precision garnet–cpx Lu–Hf ages for six eclogites from the Dabie and Sulu areas. All ages fall in a narrow range between 219.6 and 224.4 Ma. Five samples define a mean age of 223.0 ± 0.9 Ma and one sample yields a slightly younger age of 219.6 ± 1.4 Ma. This very tight age range is particularly remarkable considering the large regional distribution of sample localities (on the order of 100 km at the time of UHP metamorphism) and the wide variety of garnet and eclogite chemical compositions represented. Two samples yield Sm–Nd ages that are indistinguishable from their Lu–Hf ages, albeit with larger uncertainties. The identical ages of eclogites from both the Dabie and the Sulu region emphasize their close genetic relationship and similar metamorphic histories. The Lu–Hf results appear to date a punctuated event of garnet growth. Alternatively, the Lu–Hf garnet ages may represent the onset of rapid, contemporaneous uplift and subsequent cooling. However, trace element zoning of Lu and Hf is still preserved in garnet porphyroblasts, even in those with a homogeneous major element distribution. Thus, complete re-equilibration of the Lu–Hf system during peak-temperature conditions probably did not occur. The garnet forming event can be placed toward the final stage of the UHP metamorphism, in agreement with some published U–Pb zircon ages. A possible trigger for this short-lived and widespread mineral growth episode may have been a fluid that became available at that stage of the metamorphic history. Although HREE-depleted patterns of older zircon grains may indicate the presence of an older generation of garnet, complete eclogitisation may have been inhibited during the major part of the prograde P–T path due to dry conditions during most of the UHP metamorphism. The uniform Lu–Hf (and Sm–Nd) ages of all investigated Dabie and Sulu eclogites suggest that garnet growth and thus possibly fluid availability were limited to a short time interval over a remarkably large regional scale.