Our analyses of microboudinage structures of piemontite grains embedded within six samples of metachert, one collected from an ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) metamorphic unit at Lago di Cignana in Italy of the Western Alps, and the other five from surrounding high-pressure (HP) metamorphic units in Italy and France, have revealed that the structures are all symmetrical in type, and were presumably produced in coaxial strain fields. Stress-strain analyses of the microboudinaged grains revealed significant contrasts in the stress and strain histories of the UHP and HP metamorphic units, with the differential stress recorded by the UHP sample being unequivocally lower than that recorded by the five HP samples. In addition, our analyses showed that the UHP sample underwent stress-relaxation during microboudinage, whereas the five HP samples did not. On the basis of these observations and analyses we discuss the mechanical decoupling of the UHP and HP units that led to different histories in differential stress between the units during exhumation of the Western Alps.
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