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Metamorphic imprint of accretion and ridge subduction in the Pan-African Damara Belt, Namibia

Cross, C. B., Diener, J. F. A. and Fagereng, Ake ORCID: 2015. Metamorphic imprint of accretion and ridge subduction in the Pan-African Damara Belt, Namibia. Journal of Metamorphic Geology 33 (6) , pp. 633-648. 10.1111/jmg.12139

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Ridge subduction is an inescapable plate tectonic process, but has only been documented in modern circum-Pacific environments and not yet been recognized from suture zones associated with supercontinent assembly, likely because its imprint is obliterated by later collision. The formation of the Pan-African Damara Belt of central Namibia involved northward subduction of the Khomas Sea underneath the Congo Craton, prior to final suturing of the Congo and Kalahari Cratons. The accretionary history of the Belt is preserved in the Southern and Southern Marginal Zones, which consist of turbiditic metasedimentary and intercalcated mafic rocks with MORB affinity. Two localities in the Kuiseb and Gaub canyons reveal that aluminous metapelites contain a fabric-defining assemblage of fine-grained muscovite, chlorite, biotite, quartz and graphite that is overprinted by randomly oriented porphyroblasts and poikiloblasts of garnet, staurolite, kyanite and biotite. Associated metamafic rocks consist of hornblende, chlorite, epidote, rutile and quartz, with actinolite cores preserved in amphibole porphyroblasts. Metamorphic conditions for the fabric-defining assemblage are estimated at ∼10 kbar and 540–560 inline imageC, whereas peak metamorphism likely occurred at 10–10.5 kbar and 600 inline imageC. Consequently, these rocks preserve a two-stage prograde metamorphic history, where initial tectonic burial was followed by relatively rapid, near-isobaric heating without attendant deformation to peak metamorphic conditions. We propose that initial burial occurred through subduction and underplating to the accretionary prism, before ridge subduction and opening of a slab window heated the rocks to peak metamorphic conditions. The exceptional preservation of the tectono-thermal imprint of the accretionary orogenic stage is due to the relatively soft, largely aborted collision that characterized the Damara orogeny, which can be attributed to the confined extent of the Khomas Sea.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN: 0263-4929
Date of Acceptance: 19 May 2015
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 09:36

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