A paleolatitude reconstruction of the South Armenian Block (Lesser Caucasus) for the Late Cretaceous: Constraints on the Tethyan realm
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The continental South Armenian Block – part of the Anatolide–Tauride South Armenian microplate – of Gondwana origin rifted from the African margin after the Triassic and collided with the Eurasian margin after the Late Cretaceous. During the Late Cretaceous, two northward dipping subduction zones were simultaneously active in the northern Neo-Tethys between the South Armenian Block in the south and the Eurasian margin in the north: oceanic subduction took place below the continental Eurasian margin and intra-oceanic subduction resulted in ophiolite obduction onto the South Armenian Block in the Late Cretaceous. The paleolatitude position of the South Armenian Block before its collision with Eurasia within paleogeographic reconstructions is poorly determined and limited to one study. This earlier study places the South Armenian Block at the African margin in the Early Jurassic. To reconstruct the paleolatitude history of the South Armenian Block, we sampled Upper Devonian–Permian and Cretaceous sedimentary rocks in Armenia. The sampled Paleozoic rocks have likely been remagnetized. Results from two out of three sites sampled in Upper Cretaceous strata pass fold tests and probably all three carry a primary paleomagnetic signal. The sampled sedimentary rocks were potentially affected by inclination shallowing. Therefore, two sites that consist of a large number of samples (> 100) were corrected for inclination shallowing using the elongation/inclination method.These are the first paleomagnetic data that quantify the South Armenian Block's position in the Tethys ocean between post-Triassic rifting from the African margin and post-Cretaceous collision with Eurasia. A locality sampled in Lower Campanian Eurasian margin sedimentary rocks and corrected for inclination shallowing, confirms that the corresponding paleolatitude falls on the Eurasian paleolatitude curve. The north–south distance between the South Armenian Block and the Eurasian margin just after Coniacian–Santonian ophiolite obduction was at most 1000 km.
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