Tracing the exhumation of the Eclogite Zone (Tauern Window, Eastern Alps) by 40Ar/39Ar dating of white mica in eclogites


New radiometric ages from the Subpenninic nappes (Eclogite Zone and Rote Wand – Modereck Nappe, Tauern Window) show that phengites formed under eclogite-facies metamorphic conditions retain their initial isotopic signature, even when associated lithologies were overprinted by greenschist- to amphibolite-facies metamorphism. Different stages of the eclogite-facies evolution can be dated provided 40Ar/39Ar dating is combined with micro-structural analyses. An age of 39 Ma from the Rote Wand – Modereck Nappe is interpreted to be close to the burial age of this unit. Eclogite deformation within the Eclogite Zone started at the pressure peak along distinct shear zones, and prevailed along the exhumation path. An age of ca. 38 Ma is only observed for eclogites not affected by subsequent deformation and is interpreted as maximum age due to the possible influence of homogenously distributed excess argon. During exhumation deformation was localised along distinct mylonitic shear zones. This stage is mainly characterised by the formation of dynamically recrystallized omphacite2 and phengite. Deformation resulted in the resetting of the Ar isotopic system within the recrystallized white mica. Flat argon release spectra showing ages of 32 Ma within mylonites record the timing of cooling along the exhumation path, and the emplacement onto the Venediger Nappe. Ar-release patterns and 36Ar/40Ar vs.39Ar/40Ar isotope correlation analyses indicate no significant 40Ar-loss after initial closure, and only a negligible incorporation of excess argon. From the pressure peak onwards, eclogitic conditions prevailed for almost 8–10 Ma.

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Correspondence to Walter Kurz.

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Manuscript received 11 October, 2007; Revision accepted 5 February, 2008

Editorial Handling: Stefan Schmid, Stefan Bucher

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Kurz, W., Handler, R. & Bertoldi, C. Tracing the exhumation of the Eclogite Zone (Tauern Window, Eastern Alps) by 40Ar/39Ar dating of white mica in eclogites. Swiss J. Geosci. 101, 191–206 (2008).

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  • 40Ar/39Ar dating
  • white mica
  • eclogite exhumation
  • microstructures
  • Subpenninic nappes
  • Tauern Window