The beginning of the recrystallization of minerals within a subducting oceanic plate provides a valuable record of dehydration within the subduction zone. Pelitic schists of the Nagatoro area, Kanto Mountains, Japan, record the initial stages of garnet growth. Consequently, these rocks were studied to analyze garnet nucleation and growth during metamorphism of the Sanbagawa metamorphic belt, one of the world’s most comprehensively studied subduction complexes. The garnet grains are small, euhedral, and occur only within micaceous lamellae that define the schistosity. Crystal size distribution analyses revealed most of the garnet grains follow the log-normal size distribution, indicating that they formed in the same event. A few exceptionally large garnet grains exist that do not seem to follow the log-normal distribution. The latter garnet grains contain a rounded fragmental area with a different chemical composition inside the core. It is possible that detrital fragments of garnet contribute to the irregular crystal size distribution of garnet in the studied area. Many of the smaller (log-normal) garnet grains have relatively large, homogeneous Mn-rich cores. The lack of chemical zoning within the garnet cores suggests that they grew under constant pressure and temperature in response to overstepping of the garnet-in reaction. The chemical composition changes very sharply at the boundary between the core and the surrounding mantle. The size of the Mn-rich core is different from sample to sample, suggesting that the nucleation was controlled by the local chemical condition of each sample.
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