Thermal structure and metamorphic evolution of the Piemont-Ligurian metasediments in the northern Western Alps
Swiss Journal of Geosciences, Springer, 2013/106/1/63-78
In the Western Alps, the Piemont-Ligurian oceanic domain records blueschist to eclogite metamorphic conditions during the Alpine orogeny. This domain is classically divided into two “zones” (Combin and Zermatt-Saas), with contrasting metamorphic evolution, and separated tectonically by the Combin fault. This study presents new metamorphic and temperature (RSCM thermometry) data obtained in Piemont-Ligurian metasediments and proposes a reevaluation of the P–T evolution of this domain. In the upper unit (or “Combin zone”) temperatures are in the range of 420–530 °C, with an increase of temperature from upper to lower structural levels. Petrological evidences show that these temperatures are related to the retrograde path and to deformation at greenschist metamorphic conditions. This highlights heating during exhumation of HP metamorphic rocks. In the lower unit (or “Zermatt-Saas zone”), temperatures are very homogeneous in the range of 500–540 °C. This shows almost continuous downward temperature increase in the Piemont-Ligurian domain. The observed thermal structure is interpreted as the result of the upper and lower unit juxtaposition along shear zones at a temperature of ~500 °C during the Middle Eocene. This juxtaposition probably occurred at shallow crustal levels (~15–20 km) within a subduction channel. We finally propose that the Piemont-Ligurian Domain should not be viewed as two distinct “zones”, but rather as a stack of several tectonic slices.
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