As lithospheric plates are subducted, rocks are metamorphosed under high-pressure and ultrahigli-pressure conditions to produce eclogues and eclogite facies metamorphic rocks. Because chemical equilibrium is rarely fully achieved, eclogites may preserve in their distinctive mineral assemblages and textures a record of the pressures, temperatures and deformation the rock was subjected to during subduction and subsequent exhumation. Radioactive parent-daughter isotopic variations within minerals reveal the timing of these events. Here we present in situ zircon U/Pb ion microprobe data that dates the timing of eclogite facies metamorphism in eastern Papua New Guinea at 4.3 ± 0.4 Myr ago, making this the youngest documented eclogite exposed at the Earth's surface. Eclogite exhumation from depths of ∼75 km was extremely rapid and occurred at plate tectonic rates (cm yr-1). The eclogite was exhumed within a portion of the obliquely convergent Australian-Pacific plate boundary zone, in an extending region located west of the Woodlark basin sea floor spreading centre. Such rapid exhumation (>1 cm yr-1) of high-pressure and, we infer, ultrahigh-pressure rocks is facilitated by extension within transient plate boundary zones associated with rapid oblique plate convergence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas