The strain-dependent spatial evolution of garnet in a high-P ductile shear zone from the Western Gneiss Region (Norway): a synchrotron X-ray microtomography study

A. Macente, F. Fusseis, L. Menegon, X. Xianghui, T. John

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15 Citations (Scopus)
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Reaction and deformation microfabrics provide key information to understand the thermodynamic and kinetic controls of tectono-metamorphic processes, however, they are usually analysed in two dimensions, omitting important information regarding the third spatial dimension. We applied synchrotron-based X-ray microtomography to document the evolution of a pristine olivine gabbro into a deformed omphacite–garnet eclogite in four dimensions, where the 4th dimension is represented by the degree of strain. In the investigated samples, which cover a strain gradient into a shear zone from the Western Gneiss Region (Norway), we focused on the spatial transformation of garnet coronas into elongated garnet clusters with increasing strain. The microtomographic data allowed quantification of garnet volume, shape and spatial arrangement evolution with increasing strain. The microtomographic observations were combined with light microscope and backscatter electron images as well as electron microprobe (EMPA) and electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) analysis to correlate mineral composition and orientation data with the X-ray absorption signal of the same mineral grains. With increasing deformation, the garnet volume almost triples. In the low-strain domain, garnet grains form a well interconnected large garnet aggregate that develops throughout the entire sample. We also observed that garnet coronas in the gabbros never completely encapsulate olivine grains. In the most highly deformed eclogites, the oblate shapes of garnet clusters reflect a deformational origin of the microfabrics. We interpret the aligned garnet aggregates to direct synkinematic fluid flow, and consequently influence the transport of dissolved chemical components. EBSD analyses reveal that garnet shows a near-random crystal preferred orientation that testifies no evidence for crystal plasticity. There is, however evidence for minor fracturing, neo-nucleation and overgrowth. Microprobe chemical analysis revealed that garnet compositions progressively equilibrate to eclogite facies, becoming more almandine-rich. We interpret these observations as pointing to a mechanical disintegration of the garnet coronas during strain localization, and their rearrangement into individual garnet clusters through a combination of garnet coalescence and overgrowth while the rock was deforming.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)565-583
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number5
Early online date15 Feb 2017
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2017


  • garnet
  • high-P shear zone
  • strain localization
  • synchrotron X-ray microtomography
  • Western Gneiss Region


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