Exhumed metamorphic rocks provide unique geological insight into lithospheric processes of mass and heat transfer. They are an archive of information on the evolution of tectonic modes on Earth, the uplift of orogenic belts and strength of continents, and processes of mass and fluid cycling between Earth’s surface and interior. However, the view of metamorphic rocks and minerals as continuous, high-fidelity recorders of slowly evolving pressure and temperature conditions is undergoing a dramatic shift. As a consequence, changes in our understanding of metamorphism—how deep, how fast and how stuttering—may generate new perspectives on the function and evolution of our planet.
What controls where minerals nucleate? How are elements mobilized between reacting sites in solid rock? How efficient and connected are these processes, and when are they triggered? While conceptually simple, such fundamental questions provide a framework for bridging the gap between traditional, gradualistic models of metamorphism and a more punctuated reality. This reality, characterized by long periods of metastability interrupted by brief reaction intervals, is recorded in the physicochemical properties and spatial distribution of metamorphic minerals. In this talk, I will share how I use spatially- and temporally-resolved geochemical and structural–microstructural records to interrogate these processes and constrain when (and what) metamorphic rocks and minerals record. These systems provide a rare window into processes occurring at depth in the deep past; better understanding them provides exciting opportunity to interpret both the history and modern behavior of our planet more fully.
(Host: Prof. Blair Schoene)
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