Petrological and geochronological constraints on high pressure, high temperature metamorphism in the Snowbird tectonic zone, Canada

J. A. Baldwin, S. A. Bowring, M. L. Williams

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107 Scopus citations


The upper deck of the East Athabasca mylonite triangle (EAmt), northern Saskatchewan, Canada, contains mafic granulites that have undergone high P-T metamorphism at conditions ranging from 1.3 to 1.9 GPa, 890-960 °C. Coronitic textures in these mafic granulites indicate a near-isothermal decompression path to 0.9 GPa, 800 °C. The Godfrey granite occurs to the north adjacent to the upper deck high P-T domain. Well-preserved corona textures in the Godfrey granite constrain igneous crystallization and early metamorphism in the intermediate-pressure granulite field (Opx + Pl) at 1.0 GPa, 775 °C followed by metamorphism in the high pressure granulite field (Grt + Cpx + Pl) at 1.2 GPa, 860 °C. U-Pb geochronology of zircon in upper deck mafic granulite yields evidence for events at both c. 2.5 Ga and c. 1.9 Ga. The oldest zircon dates are interpreted to constrain a minimum age for crystallization or early metamorphism of the protolith. A population of 1.9 Ga zircon in one mafic granulite is interpreted to constrain the timing of high P-T metamorphism. Titanite from the mafic granulites yields dates ranging from 1900 to 1894 Ma, and is interpreted to have grown along the decompression path, but still above its closure temperature, indicating cooling following the high P-T metamorphism from c. 960-650 °C in 4-10 Myr. Zircon dates from the Godfrey granite indicate a minimum crystallization age of 2.61 Ga, without any evidence for 1.9 Ga overgrowths. The data indicate that an early granulite facies event occurred at c. 2.55-2.52 Ga in the lower crust (c. 1.0 GPa), but at 1.9 Ga the upper deck underwent high P-T metamorphism, then decompressed to 0.9-1.0 GPa. Juxtaposition of the upper deck and Godfrey granite would have occurred after or been related to this decompression. In this model, the high P-T rocks are exhumed quickly following the high pressure metamorphism. This type of metamorphism is typically associated with collisional orogenesis, which has important implications for the Snowbird tectonic zone as a fundamental boundary in the Canadian Shield.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-98
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2003


  • Geochronology
  • Granulites
  • High pressure metamorphism
  • Petrology
  • Saskatchewan


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