The geodynamic evolution of the Alpine orogen in the Cyclades (Aegean Sea, Greece): insights from diverse origins and modes of emplacement of ultramafic rocks Academic Article uri icon


  • The Alpine orogen in the Cyclades, wherein both high-pressure metamorphic rocks and ultramafic rocks co-occur, is a key area in studying the emplacement of mantle rocks into the crust. Within the Cyclades three distinct ultramafic associations occur: (1) HP-LT ophiolitic melanges of the Cycladic Blueschist Unit (CBU) on Evia and Syros; (2) meta-peridotites associ- ated with migmatized leucogneisses on Naxos, which represent the deepest exposed levels of the CBU; (3) a greenschist-facies metamorphosed dismembered ophiolite juxtaposed on top of the CBU by an extensional detachment on Tinos. Most of the Cycladic ultramafic rocks were serpen- tinized prior to Alpine metamorphism, suggesting denudation prior to reburial. The Naxos meta- peridotites preserve, however, relict mantle assemblage and mantle-like oxygen isotope ratios, and thus indicate direct emplacement from the mantle into an underthrust continent during collision and HP metamorphism (M1). Thus conditions for M1 in the Naxos leucogneiss core are con- strained by ultramafic assemblages to 550-650 8C and � 14 kbar. Mafic blocks of the ophiolitic melanges in the NW Cyclades span a wide range of chemical compositions indicating derivation from variable oceanic settings and sequential events of alteration and metasomatism. Given the comparable geochemical heterogeneity in the Syros and Evian melange intervals, the garnet- bearing meta-basites of the Syros melange record higher M1 temperatures (450-500 8C) than the garnet-free epidote blueschists of the Evian melanges (400-430 8C). It follows that going southeastwards from Evia progressively deeper (i.e. hotter) levels of the subducted plate are exposed. Correspondingly, temperatures of the M2 overprint also increase from pumpellyite- bearing assemblages on southern Evia, through greenschists on Syros to upper-amphibolite, silli- manite-bearing gneisses on Naxos. The diverse P-T paths of the CBU form an array wherein the deeper a rock sequence is buried, the 'hotter' is its exhumation path. Such a pattern is predicted by thermal modelling of tectonically thickened crust unroofed by either erosion or uniform extension.

publication date

  • January 1, 2007