- Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2009
U–Pb zircon geochronology and trace element analysis was applied to eclogites and (ultra)high-pressure granulites that occur as volumetrically subordinate rock bodies within orthogneisses of the Orlica-Śnieżnik complex, Bohemian Massif. Under favourable circumstances such data may help to unravel protolith ages and yet-undetermined aspects of the metamorphic evolution, for example, the time span over which eclogite-facies conditions were attained. By means of ion-probe and laser ablation techniques, a comprehensive database was compiled for samples collected from prominent eclogite and granulite occurrences. The 206Pb/238U dates for zircons of all samples show a large variability, and no single age can be calculated. The protolith ages remain unresolved due to the lack of coherent age groups at the upper end of the zircon age spectra. The spread in apparent ages is interpreted to be mainly caused by variable and possibly multi-stage Pb-loss. Further complexities are added by metamorphic zircon growth and re-equilibration processes, the unknown relevance of inherited components and possible mixing of different aged domains during analysis. A reliable interpretation of igneous crystallization ages is not yet possible. Previous studies and the new data document the importance of a Carboniferous metamorphic event at c. 340 Ma. The geological significance of this age group is controversial. Such ages have previously either been related to peak (U)HP conditions, the waning stages of eclogite-facies metamorphism or the amphibolite-facies overprint. This study provides new arguments for this discussion because, in both rock types, metamorphic zircon is characterized by very low total REE abundances, flat HREE patterns and the absence of an Eu anomaly. These features strongly suggest contemporaneous crystallization of zircon and garnet and strengthen interpretations proposing that the Carboniferous ages document late-stage eclogite-facies metamorphism, and not amphibolite-facies overprinting.