Trace element fractionation in deep subduction zones inferred from a lawsonite-eclogite xenolith from the Colorado Plateau

Tomohiro Usui, Katsura Kobayashi, Eizo Nakamura, Herwart Helmstaedt

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35 Citations (Scopus)


A coesite-bearing, lawsonite-eclogite xenolith from the Colorado Plateau, interpreted as a fragment of the subducted Farallon plate, is used to characterize trace element behavior in subducted oceanic crust. The xenolith consists of almandine-rich garnet, omphacite, lawsonite, phengite, rutile, pyrite and zircon as the primary mineral assemblage. Garnet crystals are extremely zoned with respect to their Mn contents, with core to rim variation from ∼ 1.4 to ∼ 0.2 wt.%. The euhedral zoning feature of garnet crystals and its included mineral assemblages suggest that the garnet continued to grow in the coesite stability field during prograde lawsonite eclogite facies metamorphism. In the lawsonite-eclogite xenoliths, garnet dominates the heavy rare earth elements (HREE), and lawsonite dominates both light rare earth elements (LREE) and Sr inventories. Combining the mineralogical and petrographic observations with precise spatial resolution ion microprobe analyses (< 15 μm) of zoned garnet as well as lawsonite inclusions in garnet, we investigated trace element fractionation in coesite stability field during lawsonite eclogite facies metamorphism. Garnet shows progressive HREE depletion from core to rim, suggesting that HREE, which once partitioned into garnet crystal, would not be involved in postdated metamorphic reactions due to the high partition coefficients of HREE into garnet. Lawsonite inclusions in garnet, which represent lower metamorphic condition relative to lawsonite in the matrix, have LREE concentrations ∼ 10 times lower than those of matrix lawsonite. On the contrary, the concentration of Sr in the included lawsonite is (< 20 relative %) lower than that of the matrix lawsonite. Based on constraints from metamorphic history recorded in the prograde-zoned garnet and mass balance among all constituent minerals in the lawsonite-eclogite xenolith, this contrasting feature for Sr and LREE of lawsonite is most plausibly explained by the hypothesis that allanite coexisting with included lawsonite might have decomposed during prograde metamorphism. The LREE released from the decomposing allanite would have been incorporated into lawsonite crystals. Consequently, REE and Sr could be retained in subducting oceanic crust even in the coesite stability field, if the slab is sufficiently cold enough to pass though the lawsonite eclogite facies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-351
Number of pages16
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 30 2007


  • Coesite
  • Ion microprobe
  • Lawsonite eclogite
  • Subduction-zone
  • Trace element

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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