Tourmaline breakdown in a pelitic system: Implications for boron cycling through subduction zones

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Pressure-temperature conditions of tourmaline breakdown in a metapelite were determined by high-pressure experiments at 700-900°C and 4-6 GPa. These experiments produced an eclogite-facies assemblage of garnet, clinopyroxene, phengite, coesite, kyanite and rare rutile. The modal proportions of tourmaline clearly decreased between 4.5 and 5 GPa at 700°C, between 4 and 4.5 GPa at 800°C, and between 800 and 850°C at 4 GPa, with tourmaline that survived the higher temperature conditions appearing corroded and thus metastable. Decreases in the modal abundance of tourmaline are accompanied by decreasing modal abundance of coesite, and increasing that of clinopyroxene, garnet and kyanite; the boron content of phengite increases significantly. These changes suggest that, with increasing pressure and temperature, tourmaline reacts with coesite to produce clinopyroxene, garnet, kyanite, and boron-bearing phengite and fluid. Our results suggest that: (1) tourmaline breakdown occurs at lower pressures and temperatures in SiO2-saturated systems than in SiO2-undersaturated systems. (2) In even cold subduction zones, subducting sediments should release boron-rich fluids by tourmaline breakdown before reaching depths of 150 km, and (3) even after tourmaline breakdown, a significant amount of boron partitioned into phengite could be stored in deeply subducted sediments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-32
Number of pages14
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Boron
  • High-pressure experiment
  • Subduction zone
  • Tourmaline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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