Allanite behaviour during incipient melting in the southern Central Alps

C. J. Gregory*, D. Rubatto, J. Hermann, A. Berger, M. Engi

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    51 Citations (Scopus)


    The response of allanite to incipient melting was investigated in migmatites from the Tertiary Barrovian-type sequence of the Central Alps (southern Switzerland, northern Italy). Inheritance and new mineral growth were recorded in composite allanite grains sampled from meta-granitoids and leucosomes. Ion microprobe (SHRIMP) dating of high Th/U allanite cores in meta-granitoids yield Permian ages consistent with magmatic crystallisation dating protolith intrusion. In contrast, low Th/U allanite overgrowths and weakly-zoned allanite in meta-granitoids and leucosomes yield Alpine U-Pb intercept ages between 30. ±. 4 and 20. ±. 5. Ma; these date allanite formation during the Barrovian cycle. Major and accessory mineral REE compositions suggest that Alpine allanite crystallised in the presence of a low-temperature melt. Whereas new zircon growth is rare in the migmatites, allanite readily recorded growth during the Alpine cycle. Allanite U-Th-Pb isotopes may therefore present a complementary approach to zircon for dating low-temperature partial melting, where the preservation of allanite is aided by low LREE solubility in hydrous granitic melt. The Th-Pb age is preferred to date high-Th magmatic allanite, however the U-Pb and Th-Pb ages of allanite overgrowths may differ (by up to 25%), and this demands a comparison of both U-Pb and Th-Pb isotopic systems to obtain a best estimate for the timing of low-Th allanite crystallisation. Protolith allanite preserves a substantial memory of its initial age in spite of upper amphibolite facies re-working during migmatisation (. T=. 620-700. °C), which places strong constraints on Pb closure temperature. Magmatic allanite contains <30% of initial (non-radiogenic) Pb, allanite in migmatites is characterised by an initial Pb of 20-70%, and subsolidus allanite has >60% of initial Pb. Therefore, the initial Pb may be useful as a sensor for the amount of melt present during allanite formation. The Pb isotope composition of allanite overgrowths indicates ≤5% inherited radiogenic Pb from precursor allanite, which suggests efficient redistribution and homogenisation of Pb isotopes during the Alpine partial melting period.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)433-458
    Number of pages26
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2012


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