Under Pressure: High-Pressure Metamorphism in the Alps

In the new volume of Elements Shedding Light on the European Alps” Lucie Tajčmanová, Paola Manzotti and Matteo Alvaro contributed with the article “Under Pressure: High-Pressure Metamorphism in the Alps“.

The mechanisms attending the burial of crustal material and its exhumation before and during the Alpine orogeny are controversial. New mechanical models propose local pressure perturbations deviating from lithostatic pressure as a possible mechanism for creating (ultra-)high-pressure rocks in the Alps. These models challenge the assumption that metamorphic pressure can be used as a measure of depth, in this case implying deep subduction of metamorphic rocks beneath the Alpine orogen. We summarize petrological, geochronological and structural data to assess two fundamentally distinct mechanisms of forming (ultra-)high-pressure rocks: deep subduction; or anomalous, non-lithostatic pressure variation. Furthermore, we explore mineral-inclusion barometry to assess the relationship between pressure and depth in metamorphic rocks.