The nature and origin of the Barrovian metamorphism, Scotland: diffusion length scales in garnet and inferred thermal time scales

<p>In this paper we examine the length scales of major element diffusion in garnet during the Barrovian metamorphism. The role of diffusion in the flattening of Mn zoning profiles in garnet with increasing metamorphic grade across the Barrovian metamorphic series is ambiguous. However, the loss of distinct Mn-defined secondary compositional zoning in Barrovian garnets with increasing metamorphic grade and preservation of geochemical textures around Mn-free inclusions within high-grade Barrovian garnets provide robust evidence for <em>c</em>. 1000 μm Mn diffusion in sillimanite-zone garnets during the Barrovian regional metamorphism. Sillimanite-grade garnets from the Barrovian metamorphic series also preserve <em>c</em>. 100 μm Mn diffusion textures between sillimanite-grade rim domains and lower-grade cores. Bimodality in diffusion length scales requires bimodality in thermal time scales. Length scales of chemical diffusion are considered within the context of recent duration estimates for the Barrovian metamorphism of a few million years. We conclude that heat associated with the Barrovian regional metamorphism accumulated following numerous, short time-scale heating events responsible for the smaller-scale diffusion textures. This self-similar thermal regime was likely accommodated by the operation of shear zones in the highest-grade regions of the Barrovian metamorphic series, which concentrated small-scale episodic heat sources such as sheeted magmas, fluids and/or mechanical work. </p>