P-T-t paths and deformation of blueschist and associated graphite-schist blocks from the Franciscan mélange, San Simeon, California

Access full-text files




Ukar, Estibalitz, 1980-

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The Franciscan Complex forms the structurally complicated, locally chaotic basement of the Northern and Central California and southwestern Oregon Coast Ranges. It is an accretionary wedge formed during the Late- Jurassic-Tertiary subduction along the west coast of North America. In northern California, the Franciscan is subdivided into three belts, the Western, Central, and Coastal belts, which show a zonation in age, metamorphic “grade”, and structural style. Franciscan mélanges are present in the Central belt, as well as the Diablo Range --a tectonic window within the structurally overlying Great Valley Group--, and the Nacimiento Block, where the study area is located. One of the best exposures of Franciscan mélange, where contact relationships between blocks and matrix can be observed, crops out along 6 km of seacliffs near San Simeon. Boudinaged blocks of graywacke, greenstone, chert, and much rarer blueschist and graphite-schist are ix dispersed in the shale matrix. Block sizes range from 10 cm to 15 m. The discovery of interlayered blueschist and graphite-schists, and the presence of lawsonite in some graphite-schists demonstrates that these two lithologies were metamorphosed together. Graphite-schist blocks in the Franciscan have not been reported prior to this study. Two main mineral assemblages were recognized among the studied 34 mafic blueschist blocks: 1) Lws + Na-amp + Pmp + Phe + Ttn + Chl recrystallized at ~5 kbar and 200-250°C, and 2) Lws + Na-amp + Pmp + Phe

  • Ttn + Ep + Chl, which recrystallized under slightly higher temperatures but similar pressures (300-350°C, at 5 kbar). A pre-blueschist facies metamorphic event under greenschist facies conditions is recorded by calcic cores overprinted by Na-amp rims in about half of the blocks. Sodic amphibole rims with a higher Fe3+ content probably developed due to the breakdown of epidote during a decrease in T. These mafic blueschists followed a counterclockwise P-T path. Remnants of “actinolitic rinds”, which are reaction zones formed when the blocks were in contact with serpentine, were found associated with nine of the studied mafic blueschist blocks. Such rinds were thought to be unique to better-studied Franciscan high-T blocks. Graphite-schist blocks (30 studied) contain Qtz + Phen + Ab + Gr, and are of two types. One type has relict sedimentary textures with a weak foliation defined by graphite and pressure solution seams. The other type has a compositional layering with layers containing well recrystallized quartz. Nine of these blocks also contain lawsonite within the more graphitic layers. The geochemistry of the blueschist blocks indicates that they were derived from the MORB-like oceanic crust, and seamounts underplated during the initiation of subduction. The mainly mafic protolith contained a small volume of interlayered sediment, as indicated by the presence of associated metasedimentary graphite-schists. Blueschist facies conditions were attained at the bottom of the overriding plate during the initial states of Franciscan subduction (150-155 Ma). Mafic material continued to be underplated, and low-T dynamic blueschist-facies metamorphism continued to form until at least ~137 Ma. A model is proposed in which exhumation was facilitated by normal faulting near the surface driven by gravitational collapse driven by decrease in subduction plate dip around 80 Ma that is known to have caused the Laramide orogeny. During this time, blueschist and graphite-schist blocks were plucked from the bottom of the hanging wall, incorporated into the shaleand water-rich shear zone at the plate interface, and exhumed during the upward flow of mélange driven by the movement of the downgoing plate. Blocks were extended and boudinaged, and metasomatically altered in the cataclastic zones that developed along necks and margins of the blocks during upwelling and the dewatering that led to final compaction near the surface.



LCSH Subject Headings