U–Pb zircon dates of metagabbroic rocks, such as eclogite, mafic granulite, and garnet amphibolite, are used to constrain the timing of tectonometamorphic evolution in orogens worldwide. For such interpretation, however, it is imperative to define at which stage of the P–T evolution that zircon crystallization took place: the prograde, peak, or retrograde stage. In order to accurately interpret metamorphic zircon ages, it is necessary to assess how the zircon crystallized or recrystallized, as zircon can dissolve or grow under different metamorphic conditions. Zircon is robust to retrograde isotopic resetting under most crustal conditions, but equilibrium Zr mass balance models have suggested that zircon is largely produced during retrograde metamorphism. This study takes a textural approach and identifies and reviews zircon-forming textures and reactions in gabbro and metagabbro at different metamorphic grades, ranging from subgreenschist to upper amphibolite- and eclogite-facies, and at different stages of metamorphic recrystallization. The textural relationships demonstrate that, in metagabbro, metamorphic zircon grows during the early stage of metamorphic recrystallization, independent of pressure and temperature. The mode of zircon formation is remarkably similar throughout different stages of metamorphic recrystallization, and the most significant source of Zr is igneous baddeleyite. Hence, in contrast to the equilibrium mass balance model, most zircon in metagabbro forms by prograde metamorphic reactions that consume igneous phases, and not by late retrograde reactions, and the onset of zircon forming reactions is governed primarily by the introduction of a hydrous fluid, commonly accompanied by ductile deformation.
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