Some (ultra)high-pressure metamorphic rocks that formed during continental collision preserve relict minerals, indicating a two-stage evolution: first, subduction to mantle depths and exhumation to the lower-crustal level (with simultaneous cooling), followed by intensive heating that can be characterized by a β-shaped pressure–temperature–time (P–T–t) path. Based on a two-dimensional (2D) coupled petrological–thermomechanical tectono-magmatic numerical model, we propose a possible sequence of tectonic stages that could lead to these overprinting metamorphic events along an orogenic β-shaped P–T–t path: the subduction and exhumation of continental crust, followed by slab retreat that leads to extension and subsequent asthenospheric upwelling. During the last stage, the exhumed crustal material at the crust–mantle boundary undergoes heating from the underlying hot asthenospheric mantle. This slab rollback scenario is further compared numerically with the classical continental collision scenario associated with slab breakoff, which is often used to explain the late heating impulse in the collisional orogens. The mantle upwelling occurring in the experiments with slab breakoff, which is responsible for the heating of the exhumed crustal material, is not related to the slab breakoff but can be caused either by slab bending before slab breakoff or by post-breakoff exhumation of the subducted crust. Our numerical modeling predictions align well with a variety of orogenic P–T–t paths that have been reported from many Phanerozoic collisional orogens, such as the Variscan Bohemian Massif, the Triassic Dabie Shan, the Cenozoic Northwest Himalaya, and some metamorphic complexes in the Alps.
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