Extending the applicability of the Raman carbonaceous-material geothermometer using data from contact metamorphic rocks

M. Aoya, Y. Kouketsu, S. Endo, H. Shimizu, T. Mizukami, D. Nakamura, S. Wallis

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212 Citations (Scopus)


The degree of graphitization of carbonaceous material (CM) has been widely used as an indicator of metamorphic grade. Previous work has demonstrated that peak metamorphic temperature (T) of regional metamorphic rocks can be estimated by an area ratio (R2) of peaks recognized in Raman spectra of CM. The applicability of this method to low-pressure (<3 kbar) contact metamorphism was tested using Raman spectroscopic analyses of samples from two contact-metamorphic aureoles in Japan (Daimonji and Kasuga areas). A suitable measurement procedure allows the dependence of the geothermometer on sample type (thin section, chip) and incident angle of laser beam relative to the c-axes of CM to be tested. Two important general results are: (i) in addition to standard thin sections, chips are also suitable for spectral analysis; and (ii) the incident angle of the laser beam does not significantly affect the temperature estimation, i.e. spectral measurements for the geothermometer can be carried out irrespective of the crystallographic orientation. A laser wavelength of 532 nm was used in this study compared with 514.5 nm in an independent previous study. A comparison shows that the use of a 532-nm laser results in a slightly, but systematically larger R2 ratio than that of a 514.5-nm laser. Taking this effect into account, our results show that there is a slight but distinct difference between the R2-T correlations shown by contact and regional metamorphic rocks: the former are slightly better-crystallized (have slightly lower R2 values) than the latter at the same temperature. This difference is interpreted as due to the degree of associated deformation. Despite the slight difference, the results of this study coincide within the estimated errors of ±50 °C with those of the previously proposed Raman CM geothermometer, thus demonstrating the applicability of this method to contact metamorphism. To facilitate more precise temperature estimates in regions of contact metamorphism, a new calibration for analyses using a 532-nm laser is derived. Another important observation is that the R2 ratio of metamorphosed CM in pelitic and psammitic rocks is highly heterogeneous with respect to a single sample. To obtain a reliable temperature estimate, the average R2 value must be determined by using a substantial number of measurements (usually N > 50) that adequately reflects the range of sample heterogeneity. Using this procedure (with 532-nm laser) and adapting our new calibration, the errors of the Raman CM geothermometer for contact metamorphic rocks decrease to ±30 °C.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-914
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Carbonaceous material
  • Contact metamorphism
  • Daimonji and Kasuga areas
  • Geothermometer
  • Raman spectroscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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