A low-pressure metamorphic episode in the Colorado Front Range has been identified by the presence of staurolite, andalusite, cordierite, and garnet porphyroblasts overprinting earlier assemblages. The overprinting assemblages and reaction textures are most consistent with porphyroblast growth on a prograde metamorphic path with peak temperatures exceeding ~525??C. Twenty-eight 40Ar/39Ar dates on hornblende, muscovite, biotite, and microcline were used to infer the age and thermal conditions of metamorphism. Muscovite and biotite 40Ar/39Ar ages fall mainly in the interval 1400-1340 Ma, consistent with cooling through the closure temperature interval of micas (~400??-300??C) after about 1400 Ma. In contrast, hornblende apparent ages (T(c)~500??-550??C) between 1600 and 1390 Ma reflect variable retention of radiogenic argon. Forward modeling of argon diffusion shows that the distribution of hornblende and mica ages is consistent with the partial resetting of argon systematics ca. 1400 Ma by a thermal pulse reaching maximum temperatures around 550??C and decaying within <20 m.yr. These temperatures match the conditions inferred from the overprinting assemblage; thus, muscovite and biotite ages are interpreted to date the cooling phase of this metamorphic event. This late metamorphism is broadly coeval with the intrusion of ca. 1400-Ma granitic plutons in the study area and throughout the southwestern United States. However, thermal effects are observed far from pluton margins, suggesting pervasive, regional crustal heating rather than restricted contact metamorphism. Our results suggest that ca. 1400-Ma metamorphism and plutonism are manifestations of a regional thermal episode that both partially melted the lower crust and pervasively metamorphosed middle crustal rocks.
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40Ar/39Ar thermochronology of mesoproterozoic metamorphism in the Colorado Front Range