The metamorphic sole of New Caledonia ophiolite: 40Ar/39Ar, U-Pb, and geochemical evidence for subduction inception at a spreading ridge
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Copyright © 2012 American Geophysical Union.
Amphibolite lenses that locally crop out below the serpentinite sole at the base of the ophiolite of New Caledonia (termed Peridotite Nappe) recrystallized in the high-temperature amphibolite facies and thus sharply contrast with blueschists and eclogites of the Eocene metamorphic complex. Amphibolites mostly display the geochemical features of MORB with a slight Nb depletion and thus are similar to theyoungest (Late Paleocene–Eocene) BABB components of the allochthonous Poya Terrane. Thermochronological data from hornblende (40Ar/39Ar), zircon, and sphene (U-Pb) suggest that these mafic rocks recrystallized at ~56 Ma. Using various geothermobarometers provides a rough estimate of peak recrystallization conditions of ~0.5 GPa at ~80–95°C. The thermal gradient inferred from the metamorphic assemblage (~60°C km-1), geometrical relationships, and geochemical similarity suggest that these mafic rocks belong to the oceanic crust of the lower plate of the subduction/obduction system and recrystallized when they subducted below young and hot oceanic lithosphere. They were detached from the down-going plate and finally thrust onto unmetamorphosed Poya Terrane basalts. This and the occurrence of slab melts at ~53 Ma suggest that subduction inception occurred at or near to the spreading ridge of the South Loyalty Basin at ~56 Ma.
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