Nature communications | 17 Oct 2014
CE Ganade de Araujo, D Rubatto, J Hermann, UG Cordani, R Caby and MA Basei
The deeply eroded West Gondwana Orogen is a major continental collision zone that exposes numerous occurrences of deeply subducted rocks, such as eclogites. The position of these eclogites marks the suture zone between colliding cratons, and the age of metamorphism constrains the transition from subduction-dominated tectonics to continental collision and mountain building. Here we investigate the metamorphic conditions and age of high-pressure and ultrahigh-pressure eclogites from Mali, Togo and NE-Brazil and demonstrate that continental subduction occurred within 20 million years over at least a 2,500-km-long section of the orogen during the Ediacaran. We consider this to be the earliest evidence of large-scale deep-continental subduction and consequent appearance of Himalayan-scale mountains in the geological record. The rise and subsequent erosion of such mountains in the Late Ediacaran is perfectly timed to deliver sediments and nutrients that are thought to have been necessary for the subsequent evolution of sustainable life on Earth.
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