Decompression during Late Proterozoic Al2SiO5 Triple-Point Metamorphism at Cerro Colorado, New Mexico

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An outstanding problem in understanding the late Proterozoic tectonic assembly of the southwest is identifying the tectonic setting associated with regional metamorphism at 1.4 Ga. Both isobaric heating and cooling, and counter-clockwise looping PT paths are proposed for this time. We present a study of the Proterozoic metamorphic and deformation history of the Cerro Colorado area, southern Tusas Mountains, New Mexico, which shows that the metamorphism in this area records near-isothermal decompression from 6 to 4 kbar at ca. 1.4 Ga. We do not see evidence for isobaric heating at this time. Decompression from peak pressures is recorded by the reaction Ms + Grt = St + Bt, with a negative slope in PT space; the reaction Ms + Grt = Sil + Bt, which is nearly horizontal in PT space; and partial to total pseudomorphing of kyanite by sillimanite during the main phase of deformation. The clearest reaction texture indicating decompression near peak metamorphic temperature is the replacement of garnet by clots of sillimanite, which are surrounded by halos of biotite. The sillimanite clots, most without relict garnet in the cores and with highly variable aspect ratios, are aligned. They define a lineation that formed with the dominant foliation. An inverted metamorphic gradient is locally defined by sillimanite-garnet schists (625 degrees C) structurally above staurolite-garnet schists (550 degrees C) and implies ductile thrusting during the main phase of deformation. The exhumation that led to the recorded decompression was likely in response to crustal thickening due to ductile thrusting and subsequent denudation.


Journal of Geology





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Geology & Environmental Geosciences

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