Timing of eclogite-facies metamorphism of the Chuacús complex, Central Guatemala: Record of Late Cretaceous continental subduction of North America's sialic basement

Martens, Uwe C.; Brueckner, Hannes K.; Mattinson, Christopher G.; Liou, Juhn G.; Wooden, Joseph L.

A Late Cretaceous collision of the southernmost portion of the North American continental margin with an undetermined southern block was first established based on the sedimentation history of the plate's supracrustal cover, which is overthrust by harzburgite-dominated nappes of the Guatemala Suture Complex. The collision is also well registered in the metamorphic evolution of continental eclogites of the Chuacús complex, a geologic unit that represents Mesoproterozoic–Triassic sialic basement of North America at the boundary with the Caribbean plate. Garnet–clinopyroxene–phengite thermobarometry of eclogites hosted in Chuacús gneisses indicates near ultra-high-pressure conditions to ~ 700 °C and ~ 2.1–2.4 GPa. SHRIMP-RG U–Pb dating of eclogite metamorphic zircon yielded a 75.5 ± 2 Ma age (95% confidence level). Chondrite-normalized rare-earth element patterns of zircon lack Eu anomalies and show depletions in heavy rare earths, consistent with zircon growing in a plagioclase-free, garnet-rich, eclogite-facies assemblage. Additionally, a Sm–Nd clinopyroxene-two garnet–whole rock isochron from an eclogite band yielded a less precise but consistent age of 77 ± 13 Ma. The above features imply subduction to > 60 km depth of at least a portion of the North American sialic basement during Late Cretaceous collision. The Chuacús complex was overprinted by an amphibolite-facies event. For instance, mafic high-pressure paragneiss contains symplectite, resorbed garnet, and amphibole + plagioclase poikiloblasts. Zircon rims from the paragneiss sample show rare-earth patterns consistent with plagioclase growth and garnet breakdown. Their 74.5 ± 3.5 Ma SHRIMP-RG U–Pb age is therefore interpreted as the time of retrogression, which is consistent with previously published results. Within error, the ages of the eclogite-facies event and the amphibolite-facies retrogression are equivalent. Thus exhumation of the Chuacús slab from mantle to mid-crustal depth was quick, taking few million years. During exhumation, partial melting of Chuacús gneisses generated ubiquitous pegmatites. One of the pegmatites intruded the North Motagua mélange, which is a serpentinite-rich subduction complex of the Guatemala Suture Complex containing Early Cretaceous oceanic eclogites. U–Pb, Rb–Sr, and K–Ar ages of the pegmatite range ~ 76–66 Ma. Thus initial juxtaposition of continental and oceanic high-pressure belts of the Guatemala Suture Complex predates Tertiary–present strike-slip faulting between the North-American and Caribbean plates.

Geographic Areas


Also Published In

More About This Work

Academic Units
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
Published Here
June 7, 2012