Metamorphism produced with increasing pressure and temperature conditions is known as prograde metamorphism. Conversely, decreasing temperatures and pressure characterize retrograde metamorphism.
The upper boundary of metamorphic conditions is related to the onset of melting processes in the rock. The maximum temperature for metamorphism is typically between 700 - 900°C, depending on the pressure and on the composition of the rock. Migmatites are rocks formed at this upper limit, which contain pods and veins of material that has started to melt but has not fully segregated from the refractory residue. Since the 1980s, it has been recognized that rarely, rocks are dry enough, and of a refractory enough composition, to record without melting "ultrahigh" metamorphic temperatures of 900 - 1100°C.
Metamorphic facies are recognizable terranes or zones with an equilibrium assemblage of key minerals that were in equilibrium under specific range of temperature and pressure during a metamorphic event. The facies are named after the metamorphic rock formed under those facies conditions from basalt. Facies relationships were first described by Eskola (1920).
Low grade ------------------- Intermediate --------------------- High grade
Contact metamorphism is greater adjacent to the intrusion and dissipates with distance from the contact. The size of the aureole depends on the heat of the intrusive, its size, and the temperature difference with the wall rocks. Dikes generally have small aureoles with minimal metamorphism whereas large ultramafic intrusions can have significantly thick and well-developed contact metamorphism.
The metamorphic grade of an aureole is measured by the peak metamorphic mineral which forms in the aureole. This is usually related to the metamorphic temperatures of pelitic or alumonisilicate rocks and the minerals they form. The metamorphic grades of aureoles are andalusite hornfels, sillimanite hornfels, pyroxene hornfels.
Magmatic fluids coming from the intrusive rock may also take part in the metamorphic reactions. Extensive addition of magmatic fluids can significantly modify the chemistry of the affected rocks. In this case the metamorphism grades into metasomatism. If the intruded rock is rich in carbonate the result is a skarn. Fluorine-rich magmatic waters which leave a cooling granite may often form greisens within and adjacent to the contact of the granite. Metasomatic altered aureoles can localize the deposition of metallic ore minerals and thus are of economic interest.
The textures of dynamic metamorphic zones are dependent on the depth at which they were formed, as the confining pressure determines the deformation mechanisms which predominate. Within depths less than 5km, dynamic metamorphism is not often produced because the confining pressure is too low to produce frictional heat. Instead, a zone of breccia or cataclasite is formed, with the rock milled and broken into random fragments. This generally forms a mélange. At depth, the angular breccias transit into a ductile shear texture and into mylonite zones.
Within the depth range of 5-10km pseudotachylite is formed, as the confining pressure is enough to prevent brecciation and milling and thus energy is focused into discrete fault planes. The frictional heating in this case may melt the rock to form pseudotachylite glass or mylonite, and adjacent to these zones, result in growth of new mineral assemblages.
Within the depth range of 10-20km, deformation is governed by ductile deformation conditions and hence frictional heating is dispersed throughout shear zones, resulting in a weaker thermal imprint and distributed deformation. Here, deformation forms mylonite, with dynamothermal metamorphism observed rarely as the growth of porphyroblasts in mylonite zones.
Overthrusting may juxtapose hot lower crustal rocks against cooler mid and upper crust blocks, resulting in conductive heat transfer and localised contact metamorphism of the cooler blocks adjacent to the hotter blocks, and often retrograde metamorphism in the hotter blocks. The metamorphic assemblages in this case are diagnostic of the depth and temperature and the throw of the fault and can also be dated to give an age of the thrusting.
Metamorphism is further divided into prograde and retrograde metamorphism. Prograde metamorphism involves the change of mineral assemblages (paragenesis) with increasing temperature and (usually) pressure conditions. These are solid state dehydration reactions, and involve the loss of volatiles such as water or carbon dioxide. Prograde metamorphism results in a rock representing the maximum pressure and temperature experienced. These rocks often return to the surface without undergoing retrograde metamorphism , where the mineral assemblages would become more stable under lower pressures and temperatures.
Retrograde metamorphism involves the reconstitution of a rock under decreasing temperatures (and usually pressures) where revolatisation occurs; allowing the mineral assemblages formed in prograde metamorphism to return to more stable minerals at the lower pressures. This is a relatively uncommon process, because volatiles must be present for retrograde metamorphism to occur. Most metamorphic rocks return to the surface as a representation of the maximum pressures and temperatures they have undergone.
Winter J.D., 2001. An introduction to Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology. Prentice-Hall Inc. , 695 pages. ISBN 0-13-240342-0.
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