This work reports on the first identification of sapphirine-bearing ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) metamorphic rocks within the Borborema Province, in NE Brazil. The investigated UHT diatexites outcrop in the Arapiraca Complex, a high-grade Palaeoproterozoic block embedded within the Neoproterozoic metavolcano-sedimentary sequence of the Sergipano fold-and-thrust belt. A sapphirine-bearing diatexite sample preserves two distinct residual mineral associations as inclusions in cordierite poikiloblasts: a volumetrically dominant silica-saturated, garnet–sillimanite–orthopyroxene–quartz domain, and a restricted silica-undersaturated, sapphirine–magnetite–spinel–corundum domain. Phase equilibrium modelling for the whole-rock bulk composition constrains the reactions preserved in the silica-saturated domain, which, coupled with reintegrated ternary feldspar thermometry and Al-in-orthopyroxene thermobarometry, indicates peak UHT metamorphism occurring at ~970°C/8.5 kbar followed by a clockwise near isobaric cooling stage crossing the H2O-undersaturated solidus at ~910°C/7.7 kbar. The T–MSiO2 and P–T phase equilibrium models reveal that the stabilization of magnetite-spinel in the silica-undersaturated domain can be a product of domanial SiO2-depletion ascribed to inherited compositional banding and progressive melt-loss episodes. The appearance of sapphirine as thin coronae around previously formed magnetite-spinel cores requires an increase in the bulk silica content during retrograde metamorphism. This was driven by variable degrees of chemical interaction between the silica-undersaturated domain and trapped silica-rich leucosomes. U–Pb dating of zircon coupled with trace element behaviour records the timing of melt crystallization between ca. 2.03 and 1.96 Ga, after peak UHT metamorphism and supporting a protracted, ca. 70 My period of melt presence in the crust. The UHT metamorphism in the Arapiraca Complex is related to a contemporaneous UHT event recorded within the São Francisco Craton and more broadly coincides with high geothermal gradients at ca. 2.0 Ga linked to the formation of the Columbia supercontinent. The integration of new petrological and geochronological data indicates that the Arapiraca Complex is a continental ribbon pulled away from the São Francisco–Congo palaeocontinent possibly during the early Neoproterozoic intermittent rifting events and opening of the Sergipano oceanic basin between ca. 0.98–0.74 Ga. During the late Neoproterozoic at ca. 0.63–0.57 Ga, the Arapiraca Complex continental ribbon was thrusted back onto the northern margin of the São Francisco Craton as an inlier of the Sergipano fold-and-thrust belt.
- Borborema Province
- phase equilibrium modelling
- São Francisco Craton
- ultrahigh-temperature metamorphism
- zircon petrochronology