Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Keith A. Klepeis



Doubtful Sound, in SW New Zealand, exposes an exhumed section of lower crust that represents the root of an Early Cretaceous magmatic arc. Here, the lower crust underwent a change from contraction to extension and these tectonic cycles are fundamental to the growth of continental crust. Mafic-intermediate granulite gneisses occur below the extensional Doubtful Sound shear zone (DSSZ) which records the retrogression and transposition of granulite fabrics at the upper amphibolite facies. I compared 3D rock fabrics, microstructures and textures within and below the DSSZ to determine the processes involved in the shift from contraction to extension and to infer the sequential processes of transforming L>S granulites to L=S amphibolites.

Below the DSSZ, dehydration zones around felsic veins and leucosome in migmatitic orthogneiss record granulite facies metamorphism. Aggregates of clinopyroxene (cpx) and orthopyroxene (opx) that are rimmed by garnet (grt) and interstitial melt are set in a plagioclase (pl) matrix. Peritectic grt, pl-grt symplectites, beads of pl along grain boundaries, and elongate, inclusion-free pl reflect the anatexis. Pl exhibits a crystal preferred orientation (CPO) and evidence of subgrain rotational recrystallization and grain boundary migration, indicating subsolidus deformation outlasted melting. Mafic aggregates are boudinaged and opx developed subgrains. During peak metamorphism high strain was partitioned to locations enriched in melt, producing L>S fabrics and an upward trajectory in the strain path. A comparison of mineral grain shapes indicates that pl accommodated most of the strain. Granulite-amphibolite transitional rocks inside the DSSZ record a heterogeneous retrogression of the granulites to a polyphase metamorphic assemblage of hornblende (hbl), biotite (bt), and fine pl. Also preserved is the resetting of high strain L>S granulite to low strain, L=S amphibolite. Folia of porphyroblastic hbl + bt progressively penetrate the pl matrix via solution mass transfer. Porphyroblastic pl in the rock matrix becomes increasingly transposed to gneissic layering. A path of decreasing gradient from high strain L>S granulite to low strain L=S amphibolite reflects the development of the DSSZ fabric, growth of new minerals and onset to deformation at the amphibolite facies. Inside the DSSZ, amphibolites show an increasing strain gradient from low strain L=S amphibolite to high strain L=S amphibolite. Pl aggregates lack a CPO and are mostly annealed but preserve grain boundary migration microstructures. Hbl is recrystallized and forms asymmetric fish. Evidence of high fluid activity and reaction softening within the DSSZ include increased hbl + bt and bt beards on pl relative to rocks outside the DSSZ.

My observations suggest that magma, heat, and melting initially weakened the lower crust, facilitating the development of high strain zones with L>S fabrics. Partially molten regions deformed by suprasolidus flow and solid portions deformed mostly by dislocation creep in pl and boudinage of cpx + opx. Later, the lower crust was weakened and high strain fabrics were reset from overprinting and transposition as retrogression progressed and low strain L=S fabrics formed. During extension there was an upward trajectory in the strain path to high strain L=S fabrics within the DSSZ, where hbl and bt accommodated more strain. My results illustrate the importance of 1) melting, cooling, and hydration in controlling strain partitioning and the rheological evolution of lower crustal shear zones, and 2) the importance of integrating microstructural and fabric analysis to determine strain paths.



Number of Pages

312 p.

Included in

Geology Commons