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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Professor Yaoling Niu

Xiao, Y.Y., Niu, Yaoling, Li, H.K., Wang, H.C., Liu, X.M. & Davidson, J.P. (2014). Trace element budgets and (re)distribution during subduction-zone ultrahigh pressure metamorphism: Evidence from Western Tianshan, China. Chemical Geology 365: 54-68.

Author(s) from Durham


We have conducted an LA-ICP-MS in situ trace element study of garnet, epidote group minerals, phengitic muscovite and paragonite in rocks of basaltic and sedimentary protolith from an ultrahigh pressure metamorphic belt along Western Tianshan, China. The data are used to evaluate the capacity of these minerals for hosting incompatible elements in response to subduction-zone metamorphism (SZM). The results confirm existing studies in that the presence and stability of these minerals largely control the geochemical behaviors of elements during SZM.

We found that redistribution of rare earth elements (REEs), Th and U into newly-formed minerals during progressive SZM precludes the release of these elements from the down-going ocean crust, which contradicts the common perception in models of slab-dehydration and flux-melting. This suggests that additional processes, such as the involvement of supercritical fluids or hydrous melts formed at depth are required to supply these elements to the mantle wedge for arc magmatism. In addition, the ready release of large ion lithophile elements (LILEs) by different minerals, and the high immobility of REEs in rocks of basaltic protolith indicate that the contribution of altered ocean crust after SZM may not be responsible for the correlated Sr–Nd (Hf) isotope systematics observed in oceanic basalts. That is, subducted ocean crust that has gone through SZM cannot be the major source material for ocean island basalts.