A model that relates the characteristic diffusion length and average cooling rate to peak temperature was developed for chemical diffusion in spherical geometries on the basis of geospeedometry principles and diffusion theory. The model is quantitatively evaluated for cation diffusion profiles in garnet. Important model parameters were calibrated empirically using diffusion zoning of Ca in garnet from the Pikwitonei Granulite Domain, a terrane for which the thermal history has been well characterized. The results are used: (i) to empirically test diffusion parameters for Mg and Fe(II) and (ii) to develop a tool that uses the diffusion zoning of these cations in garnet to constrain peak temperature conditions for garnet-bearing rocks. The thermometric approach was externally tested by applying it to garnet crystals from various metamorphic terranes worldwide and comparing the results to published peak temperature estimates. The results overlap within uncertainties in all cases, but result that are based on Fe(II) and Mg chemical-diffusion profiles are up to three times more precise than those acquired by conventional methods. The remarkable consistency of the results implies that the model is robust and provides a reliable means of estimating peak temperatures for different types of high-grade metamorphic rock. The tool could be of particular advantage in rocks where critical assemblages for conventional thermometry do not occur or have been replaced during retrogression.
Journal of Metamorphic Geology, 2013, Vol 31, Issue 3, p. 339-358