Electron microprobe petrochronology of monazite-bearing garnet micaschists in the Oetztal-Stubai Complex (Alpeiner Valley, Stubai)

  • Bernhard SchulzEmail author
  • Joachim Krause
  • Robert Zimmermann


Monazite dating in metapelites is an emerging method to investigate polymetamorphic areas. A protocol for Th–U–Pb dating of monazite by electron microprobe was adopted for a JEOL JXA-8530F. It was applied to the Variscan and Early-Alpine metamorphic Austroalpine Oetztal-Stubai Complex (OSC). In the Alpeiner Valley in the Stubai region, the Schrankogel complex is the eastern succession of the Central Metabasite Zone. In this part, metabasites are alternating with metapelites. In 4 samples from micaschist lenses, dominantly Carboniferous monazite isochrone ages at 335 ± 4 Ma, 320 ± 4 Ma; 319 ± 4 Ma and 319 ± 4 Ma were obtained. The micaschist samples with diverse modal compositions and variable bulk rock Ca contents of calculated assay, display distinct monazite microstructures, as quantified by automated SEM-MLA (mineral liberation analysis) routines. Clusters of small monazite could indicate new crystallization and yielded isochrones at 313 and 304 Ma. In contrast, corona structures of apatite and allanite around large monazites with isochrones between 350 and 315 Ma suggest a decomposition during decreasing temperature. Garnets in metapelitic assemblages display growth zonations with low pyrope contents in the cores and pyrope-rich rims. A prograde metamorphism with high pressure amphibolite-facies peak conditions at ~ 12 kbar and ~ 680 °C, and a post Pmax path with decompression to 4 kbar and 640–600 °C was estimated from the micaschists and from zoned Ca-amphiboles in retrogressed amphibolitized eclogites. The P–T path entered the monazite stability field during the decompression. This signals a Carboniferous age of the metamorphism. A minor population in one sample is composed of sporadic Permian single monazite ages. A Cretaceous monazite population is lacking. In the wide parts of the Austroalpine basement with Carboniferous-to-Cretaceous mica mixing ages, monazite age populations allow to discriminate a distinct Permian metamorphic event.


Th–U–Pb-monazite dating Geothermobarometry Automated SEM mineral liberation analysis Variscan Austroalpine basement Eastern Alps 



The electron-microprobe silicate analyses were performed during sessions with technical assistance through D. Heger, Institut für Werkstoffwissenschaft der TU Bergakademie Freiberg. Support at the SEM studies in the Laboratory of Geometallurgy at Freiberg was provided by K. Bachmann and S. Gilbricht. R. Zimmermann thanks the team of Franz-Senn Hütte for hospitality during field work in 2013. The detailed and useful comments provided by B. Budzyń, I. Broska, J. M. Allaz and anonymous reviewers to various versions of the manuscript, and the editorial efforts are gratefully acknowledged.

Supplementary material

15_2019_351_MOESM1_ESM.xls (47 kb)
Online Resource 1: Protocol for monazite analysis with JEOL JXA-8530F electron microprobe, hosted at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg of Resource Technology. Counts per second (Cts/s) on peak (PK) and background (BKG) refer to reference monazite Madmon (Schulz and Schüssler 2013), except for element Eu**, which refers to a monazite from sample RZ29 (mean of 5 analyses). Error ε is calculated from cts/s rates as ε = √(ctsPK + ctsBKG)/(ctsPK-ctsBKG). El = element. Line interferences and corresponding factors are indicated. (XLS 47 kb)
15_2019_351_MOESM2_ESM.jpg (1.2 mb)
Online Resource 2: WDS linescans with H-type spectrometer and PETH crystal of a JEOL-JXA-8530 electron microprobe at Helmholtz Institute Freiberg of Resource Technology. The spectrometer positions around the PbMα peak are considered. Beam conditions are 20 kV, 50 nA, diameter 6 µm. A square area of 24 µm is analysed at a Dwell time of 700 ms. (JPEG 1217 kb)
15_2019_351_MOESM3_ESM.xls (398 kb)
Online Resource 3: Electron microprobe analyses of metamorphic monazite from metapelites of the Schrankogel complex in the Oetztal-Stubai basement in the Alpeiner Valley around Franz-Senn-Hütte. Monazite ages from single analyses are given with 2σ error. Mnz monazite single grain. (XLS 398 kb)
15_2019_351_MOESM4_ESM.xls (24 kb)
Online Resource 4: Electron microprobe analyses of Ca-amphiboles in amphibolitized eclogite (RZ24) and amphibolite (RZ37) from the Schrankogel complex in the Alpeiner Valley around Franz-Senn-Hütte, Austroalpine Oetztal-Stubai basement. Cation formula is calculated on the basis of 23 oxygens (Leake et al. 1997), with site allotment CNK13. (XLS 24 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Economic Geology and PetrologyInstitute of Mineralogy, TU Bergakademie FreibergFreibergGermany
  2. 2.Department of AnalyticsHelmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource TechnologyFreibergGermany
  3. 3.Department of ExplorationHelmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource TechnologyFreibergGermany

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