The East Anatolia-Lesser Caucasus ophiolite: An exceptional case of large-scale obduction, synthesis of data and numerical modelling

Rolland Y., Hassig M., Bosch D., Bruguier O., Melis R., Galoyan G., ...More

GEOSCIENCE FRONTIERS, vol.11, pp.83-108, 2020 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 11
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.gsf.2018.12.009
  • Title of Journal : GEOSCIENCE FRONTIERS
  • Page Numbers: pp.83-108


We present new, geological, metamorphic, geochemical and geochronological data on the East Anatolian-Lesser Caucasus ophiolites. These data are used in combination with a synthesis of previous data and numerical modelling to unravel the tectonic emplacement of ophiolites in this region. All these data allow the reconstruction of a large obducted ophiolite nappe, thrusted for >100 km and up to 250 km on the Anatolian-Armenian block. The ophiolite petrology shows three distinct magmatic series, highlighted by new isotopic and trace element data: (1) The main Early Jurassic Tholeiites (ophiolite s.s.) bear LILE-enriched, subduction-modified, MORB chemical composition. Geology and petrology of the Tholeiite series substantiates a slow-spreading oceanic environment in a time spanning from the Late Triassic to the Middle-Late Jurassic. Serpentinites, gabbros and plagiogranites were exhumed by normal faults, and covered by radiolarites, while minor volumes of pillow-lava flows infilled the rift grabens. Tendency towards a subduction-modified geochemical signature suggests emplacement in a marginal basin above a subduction zone. (2) Late Early Cretaceous alkaline lavas conformably emplaced on top of the ophiolite. They have an OIB affinity. These lavas are featured by large pillow lavas interbedded a carbonate matrix. They show evidence for a large-scale OIB plume activity, which occurred prior to ophiolite obduction. (3) Early-Late Cretaceous calc-alkaline lavas and dykes. These magmatic rocks are found on top of the obducted nappe, above the post-obduction erosion level. This series shows similar Sr-Nd isotopic features as the Alkaline series, though having a clear supra-subduction affinity. They are thus interpreted to be the remelting product of a mantle previously contaminated by the OIB plume. Correlation of data from the Lesser Caucasus to western Anatolia shows a progression from back-arc to arc and fore-arc, which highlight a dissymmetry in the obducted oceanic lithosphere from East to West. The metamorphic P-T-t paths of the obduction sole lithologies define a southward propagation of the ophiolite: (1) P-T-t data from the northern Sevan-Akera suture zone (Armenia) highlight the presence and exhumation of eclogites (1.85 +/- 0.02 GPa and 590 +/- 5 degrees C) and blueschists below the ophiolite, which are dated at ca. 94 Ma by Ar-Ar on phengite. (2) Neighbouring Amasia (Armenia) garnet amphibolites indicate metamorphic peak conditions of 0.65 +/- 0.05 GPa and 600 +/- 20 degrees C with a U-Pb on rutile age of 90.2 +/- 5.2 Ma and Ar-Ar on amphibole and phengite ages of 90.8 +/- 3.0 Ma and 90.8 +/- 1.2 Ma, respectively. These data are consistent with palaeontological dating of sediment deposits directly under (Cenomanian, i.e. >= 93.9 Ma) or sealing (Coniacian-Santonian, i.e., <= 89.8 Ma), the obduction. (3) At Him (NE Turkey) P-T-t conditions on amphibolites (0.66 +/- 0.06 GPa and 660 +/- 20 degrees C, with a U-Pb titanite age of 80.0 +/- 3.2 Ma) agree with previous P-T-t data on granulites, and highlight a rapid exhumation below a top-to-the-North detachment sealed by the Early Maastrichtian unconformity (ca. 70.6 Ma). Amphibolites are cross-cut by monzonites dated by U-Pb on titanite at 78.3 +/- 3.7 Ma. We propose that the HT-MP metamorphism was coeval with the monzonites, about 10 Ma after the obduction, and was triggered by the onset of subduction South of the Anatolides and by reactivation or acceleration of the subduction below the Pontides-Eurasian margin.