The pioneer work of Bernard Kubler and Martin Frey in very low-grade metamorphic terranes: paleo-geothermal potential of variation in Kubler-Index/organic matter reflectance correlations. A review

Maehlmann R. F. , BOZKAYA Ö. , Potel S., Le Bayon R., Segvic B., Nieto F.

SWISS JOURNAL OF GEOSCIENCES, vol.105, no.2, pp.121-152, 2012 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 105 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00015-012-0115-3
  • Page Numbers: pp.121-152


Low-temperature metamorphic petrology occupies the P-T field between sedimentary and metamorphic petrology. Two important pillars of low-temperature metamorphism are coal petrology and claymineralogy. When low temperature petrology was established bridging a hiatus between the two classical geological disciplines of sedimentary geology and metamorphic petrology, geologists faced a need for the usage of different terminology tenets. Martin Frey and Bernard Kubler were two pioneers in low-grade metamorphic petrology. They focused their research on clarifying the relationships of clay mineralogy and organic petrology to metamorphic pressure (P) and temperature (T) conditions. The ultimate aim of M. Frey and B. Kubler was to establish a correlation between clay indices and organic parameters for different geodynamic setting and therefore for various pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions occurring in low grade metamorphic terranes. For this purpose, a special attention was addressed to the correlation between the Kubler-Index (KI) and vitrinite reflectance (VR). All these efforts are dedicated to estimate the P-T conditions and thus to gain insight into the geodynamic evolution of low-grade metamorphic terranes. B. Kubler and M. Frey honored here concentrated their studies to the Helvetic Central Alps area. The very low-grade Helvetic domain is therefore of basic interest of this paper. Ensuing the extensive compilation of data from the Helvetic domain, a reinterpretation of Kubler and Frey's research is presented in the light of last decade's scientific progress. A comprehensive dataset available enables to discriminate many factors influencing the Kubler-Index and organic-matter reflectance alongside to time, temperature and pressure. The correlation is restricted to the KI and organic matter reflectance (mostly VR) because most of the studies used both methods. Organic matter reflectance (OMR) includes data from vitrinite reflectance and bituminite reflectance measurements. Geodynamics has important control on the KI/VR (OMR) correlation. Tectonic units having a similar geodynamic evolution are featured by the comparable KI/OMR trends, related to the particular paleo-geothermal conditions. Obviously the KI/OMR correlations provide a mean to characterise geothermal gradients and metamorphic very-low-grade pressure-temperature conditions. In terranes where high deformations rates are reported, exceeding the high anchizone conditions, strain promotes the kinetic effects of temperature and pressure on the KI versus OMR ratio.