Oxygen isotope thermometry using quartz inclusions in garnet

R. J. Quinn, K. Kitajima, D. Nakashima, M. J. Spicuzza, J. W. Valley

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Oxygen isotope ratios of quartz inclusions (QI) within garnet from granulite and amphibolite facies gneisses in the Adirondack Mountains, NY were analysed and used to determine metamorphic temperatures. Primary QI for eight of 12 samples have δ18O values significantly lower than matrix quartz (MQ). The primary QI retain δ18O values representative of thermal conditions during garnet crystallization, whereas the δ18O values of MQ were raised by diffusive exchange with other matrix minerals (e.g. mica and feldspar) during cooling. The δ18O differences between QI and MQ show that garnet (a mineral with slow diffusion of oxygen) can armour QI from isotopic exchange with surrounding matrix, even during slow cooling. These differences between δ18O in MQ and QI can further be used to test cooling rates by Fast Grain Boundary diffusion modelling. Criteria for identifying QI that preserve primary compositions and are suitable for thermometry were developed based on comparative tests. Relations between δ18O and inclusion size, distance of inclusion to host–garnet rim, core–rim zonation of individual inclusions, and presence or absence of petrological features (healed cracks in QI, inclusions in contact with garnet cracks lined by secondary minerals, and secondary minerals along the inclusion grain boundary) were investigated. In this study, 61% of QI preserve primary δ18O and 39% were associated with features that were linked to reset δ18O values. If δ18O in garnet is homogeneous and inclusions are removed, laser-fluorination δ18O values of bulk garnet are more precise, more accurate, and best for thermometry. Intragrain δ18O(Grt) profiles measured in situ by ion microprobe show no δ18O zonation. Almandine–rich garnet (Alm60–75) from each sample was measured by laser-fluorination mass-spectrometry (LF-MS) for δ18O and compared with ion microprobe measurements of δ18O in QI for thermometry. The Δ18O(Qz–Grt) values for Adirondack samples range from 2.66 to 3.24‰, corresponding to temperatures of 640–740 °C (A[Qz–Alm] = 2.71). Out of 12 samples that were used for thermometry, nine are consistent with previous estimates of peak temperature (625–800 °C) based on petrological and carbon–isotope thermometry for regional granulite and upper amphibolite facies metamorphism. The three samples that disagree with independent thermometry for peak metamorphism are from the anorthosite–mangerite–charnockite–granite suite in the central Adirondacks and yield temperatures of 640–665 °C, ~100 °C lower than previous estimates. These low temperatures could be interpreted as thermal conditions during late (post-peak) crystallization of garnet on the retrograde path.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-252
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1


  • ion microprobe
  • oxygen isotopes
  • quartz inclusions in garnet
  • speedometry
  • thermometry


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