Isotopic disequilibrium in migmatitic hornfels of the Gennargentu Igneous Complex (Sardinia, Italy) records the formation of low 87Sr/86Sr melts from a mica-rich source

Mario Gaeta*, Andrea Giuliani, Tommaso Di Rocco, Vanni Tecchiato, Cristina Perinelli, Vadim S. Kamenetsky

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Isotopic disequilibrium is increasingly recognized as a common feature of magmatic systems, but the details of the mechanism(s) underpinning the development of isotopic disequilibrium during partial melting processes are not fully understood. Partial melting of mica-rich lithologies may be predicted to generate melts enriched in radiogenic Sr compared to the bulk protolith compositions due to the typically high Rb/Sr ratio coupled with low melting temperature of mica in crustal rocks. Here we report a puzzling case study where the Sr-isotope composition of the melt fraction (leucosome) of partially molten metapelites (migmatites) is less radiogenic than the restitic component (melanosome). The examined migmatites fringe (50m wide zone) a low-pressure (≤200 MPa), high-temperature (1050°C) quartz-dioritic intrusion, which was emplaced in the Gennargentu Igneous Complex (Sardinia, Italy) at 306626Ma (bulk-rock Rb/Sr dating). The migmatites derive from anatexis of the muscovite-rich metapelitic wall-rocks. They include a quartzo-feldspathic leucosome and a melanosome containing cordierite, K-feldspar, plagioclase, biotite, Fe-Ti oxide minerals and both corundum and hercynite. The leucosome has a less radiogenic Sr and more radiogenic Nd isotope composition than the melanosome (87Sr/86Sr (306 Ma) = 0·71068 and 0·71536; εNd(306Ma) = -6·4 and -9·2, respectively), with bulk migmatite samples having intermediate compositions. The significantly lower content of mica in the migmatites compared to the protolith indicates that muscovite and, to a lesser extent, biotite largely contributed to melt formation. However, the leucosome volume (50%) estimated through mass balance calculations is considerably higher than the amount of melt (≤10 vol. %) generally produced by mica-dehydration melting in the crust, suggesting that partial melting was enhanced by an external hydrous fluid. The O-isotope composition of the migmatites is lower than the typical metapelite values (>10‰) but overlaps with the δ18O range of the quartz-diorites (8·8-9·9‰), suggesting that such a hydrous fluid was released from the quartz-dioritic intrusion. We put forward a model whereby the anatexis temperature conditions (T < 800°C) favored the preservation of isotopic disequilibrium of micas and plagioclase in the protolith. In this context, the leucosome formed by the preferential melting of less radiogenic plagioclase rather than more radiogenic micas. The melt was then efficiently separated from the melanosome containing restitic biotite and 'peritectic K-feldspar and magnetite' derived from mica breakdown. During the anatectic process the quartz-diorite provided not only the heat budget, but also the fluid amount responsible for (i) the hydration of the pelitic country rock, (ii) the increase of melt fraction, and (iii) the higher mobility of anatectic magma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1309-1328
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number7
Early online date18 Jun 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Aureole
  • Gennargentu
  • Isotopic disequilibrium
  • Migmatite
  • Quartz diorite
  • Sardinia


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