October 6 | Dissertation by Alexander Lewerentz

Fluid-induced alteration of metasedimentary rocks in the Scottish Highlands

Friday, October 6 2017
10h00, William Olssonsalen, GeoBuilding, Stockholm University

Main supervisor:
Alasdair Skelton, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden

Assistant supervisors:
Patrick Crill, Department of Geological Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden
Charlotte Möller, Department of Geology, Lund University, Sweden

Examiners:
Jay Ague, Yale University, USA
Sandra Piazolo, University of Leeds, UK
Pavel Pitra, University of Rennes, France
Victoria Pease, Stockholm University, Sweden

Abstract
Fluids, mainly H2O and CO2, are released from H- and C-bearing phases during prograde metamorphism. Because of the buoyancy of these fluids, they rise within the crust towards the surface of the Earth. Metamorphic fluids take advantage of permeable horizons, shear zones, fold hinges, fractures, and are channelled into high-flux zones. Fluid fluxes for channelized fluid flow may exceed background pervasive fluxes by several orders of magnitude. Metamorphic fluids react with the surrounding rock during fluid flow, and altered zones are commonly observed adjacent to high-flux conduits. Fluid-altered rock is texturally, mineralogically, chemically, and isotopically different from rock unaffected by fluid flow. In this thesis, fluid-rock interaction is studied at two localities in the Scottish Highlands: Glen Esk and the Isle of Islay. Glen Esk is one of the type localities used by George Barrow (1853–1932) to propose the concept of metamorphic zones and metamorphic index minerals as an approximate determination of metamorphic grade. In several of the metamorphic zones in Glen Esk, index mineral distribution is highly dependent on proximity to veins. The occurrence of index minerals is therefore not only controlled by pressure and temperature, but also by the availability of metamorphic fluids. Evidence of a retrograde fluid flow event from the North Esk Fault is observed in Glen Esk, for which a time-averaged fluid flux of 0.0003–0.0126 m3∙m-2∙yr-1 is calculated. The duration of the fluid event is estimated to between 16 and 334 kyr. On the Isle of Islay, kyanite is observed in rocks of chlorite or lower-biotite metamorphic grade, i.e. much lower temperatures than usually associated with kyanite formation. The favoured explanation for this is retrograde infiltration of extremely high-CO2 fluids, at least locally XCO2 > 0.7, at ~340°C, which altered these rocks and stabilised kyanite in a carbonate-bearing assemblage. Oxygen and carbon stable isotope profiles across the Islay Anticline reveals highly channelized fluid flow along the axial region of this fold, with fluid:rock ratios at least four times higher than in rock farther away from the fold. Although carbon and oxygen isotope ratios of metacarbonate rocks were altered along the Islay Anticline, negative anomalies observed below and above the Port Askaig Tillite Formation cannot solely be attributed to metamorphic fluid flow, which implies that these rocks to varying degree retain their primary paleoclimatological isotopic signatures.

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