Short-duration regional metamorphism is a recently observed and poorly understood phenomenon in metamorphic geology. In this review, it is defined as metamorphism on time scales that limit length scales (of the associated thermal anomaly) to significantly less than the thickness of the orogenic crust (<10 myr) or subducted oceanic lithosphere (<5 myr). Without appealing to exceptional heat sources, thermal models have been unable to account for peak metamorphic temperature during collisional orogenesis and subduction. This observation, combined with restricted time scales for regional metamorphism, suggests that metamorphic facies series can record atypical and transient thermal conditions (related to punctuated and localized heat advection and/or production), rather than normal, ambient conditions for the tectonic setting to which they are allied. High-precision geochronology can resolve short-duration metamorphic estimates of 1 – 10 myr. However, diffusion geospeedometry typically yields extremely short metamorphic durations (<1 myr); tools in metamorphic geology may have matured to the point that the discipline is beginning to recognize episodicity and criticality in deep processes. New, very high-precision petrochronology techniques offer great potential to probe the veracity of extremely short metamorphic durations being obtained from diffusion geospeedometry. Benchmarking of these new very high-precision petrochronology techniques must become a priority for metamorphic geology.
- Received May 26, 2016.
- Revision received October 2, 2016.
- Accepted October 27, 2016.
- © 2016 The Author(s)
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