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Published October 1985 | public
Journal Article

Stable isotopic evidence for large-scale seawater infiltration in a regional metamorphic terrane; the Trois Seigneurs Massif, Pyrenees, France


Oxygen isotopic analyses of 95 metamorphic and igneous rocks and minerals from a Hercynian metamorphic sequence in the Trois Seigneurs Massif, Pyrenees, France, indicate that all lithologies at higher metamorphic grades than the "andalusite in" isograd have relatively homogeneous δ 18O values. The extent of homogenization is shown by the similarity of δ 18O values in metacarbonates, metapelites and granitic rocks (+11 to +13), and by the narrow range of oxygen isotopic composition shown by quartz from these lithologies. These values contrast with the δ 18O values of metapelites of lower metamorphic grade (δ 18O about +15). Homogenization was caused by a pervasive influx of hydrous fluid. Mass-balance calculations imply that the fluid influx was so large that its source was probably high-level groundwaters or connate formation water. Hydrogen isotopic analyses of muscovite from various lithologies are uniform and exceptionally heavy at δD=−25 to −30, suggesting a seawater origin. Many lines of petrological evidence from the area independently suggest that metamorphism and anatexis of pelitic metasediment occurred at depths of 6–12 km in the presence of this water-rich fluid, the composition of which was externally buffered. Deep penetration of surface waters in such environments has been hitherto unrecognized, and may be a key factor in promoting major anatexis of the continental crust at shallow depth. Three types of granitoid are exposed in the area. The leucogranites and the biotite granite-quartz diorite are both mainly derived from fusion of local Paleozoic pelitic metasediment, because all these rocks have similar whole-rock δ 18O values (+11 to +13). The post-metamorphic biotite granodiorite has a distinctly different δ 18O (+9.5 to +10.0) and was probably derived from a deeper level in the crust. Rare mafic xenoliths within the deeper parts of the biotite granite-quartz diorite also have different δ 18O (+8.0 to +8.5) and possibly represent input of mantle derived magma, which may have provided a heat source for the metamorphism.

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October 24, 2023