The compositional zoning of a garnet population contained within a garnet-grade metapelitic schist from the Lesser Himalayan Sequence of Sikkim (India) provides insight into the rates and kinetic controls of metamorphism, and the extent of chemical equilibration during porphyroblast crystallisation in the sample. Compositional profiles across centrally sectioned garnet crystals representative of the observed crystal size distribution indicate a strong correlation between garnet crystal size and core composition with respect to major end-member components. Systematic steepening of compositional gradients observed from large to small grains is interpreted to reflect a progressive decrease in the growth rate of relatively late-nucleated garnet as a result of an increase in interfacial energies during progressive crystallisation. Numerical simulation of garnet nucleation and growth using an equilibrium approach accounting for chemical fractionation associated with garnet crystallisation reproduces both the observed crystal size distribution and the chemical zoning of the entire garnet population. Simulation of multicomponent intracrystalline diffusion within the population indicates rapid heating along the pressure–temperature path, in excess of 100 ∘C Myr- 1. Radial garnet growth is correspondingly rapid, with minimum rates of 1.4 mm Myr- 1. As a consequence of such rapid crystallisation, the sample analysed in this study provides a close to primary record of the integrated history of garnet nucleation and growth. Our model suggests that nucleation of garnet occurred continuously between incipient garnet crystallisation at ∼ 520 ∘C, 4.5 kbar and peak metamorphic conditions at ∼ 565 ∘C, 5.6 kbar. The good fit between the observed and predicted garnet growth zoning suggests that the departure from equilibrium associated with garnet nucleation and growth was negligible, despite the particularly fast rates of metamorphic heating. Consequently, rates of major element diffusion in the intergranular medium during garnet crystallisation are interpreted to have been correspondingly rapid. It is, therefore, possible to simulate the prograde metamorphic history of our sample as a succession of equilibrium states of a chemical system modified by chemical fractionation associated with garnet crystallisation.

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Keywords Chemical equilibrium, Crystal growth, Nucleation, THERIA_G, XR μ-CT
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Journal Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
George, F.R., & Gaidies, F. (2017). Characterisation of a garnet population from the Sikkim Himalaya: insights into the rates and mechanisms of porphyroblast crystallisation. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 172(7). doi:10.1007/s00410-017-1372-y