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Alpine tectonic evolution of a Jurassic subduction-accretionary complex: Deformation, kinematics and40Ar/39Ar age constraints on the Mesozoic low-grade schists of the Circum-Rhodope Belt in the eastern Rhodope-Thrace region, Bulgaria-Greece

Journal of Geodynamics
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jog.2010.12.006
  • Circum-Rhodope Belt
  • Mesozoic Low-Grade Schists
  • Tectonics
  • 40Ar/39Ar Geochronology
  • Eastern Rhodope-Thrace Region
  • Bulgaria
  • Greece
  • Earth Science
  • Geography
  • Mathematics


Abstract Deformation of the Circum-Rhodope Belt Mesozoic (Middle Triassic to earliest Lower Cretaceous) low-grade schists underneath an arc-related ophiolitic magmatic suite and associated sedimentary successions in the eastern Rhodope-Thrace region occurred as a two-episode tectonic process: (i) Late Jurassic deformation of arc to margin units resulting from the eastern Rhodope-Evros arc–Rhodope terrane continental margin collision and accretion to that margin, and (ii) Middle Eocene deformation related to the Tertiary crustal extension and final collision resulting in the closure of the Vardar ocean south of the Rhodope terrane. The first deformational event D 1 is expressed by Late Jurassic NW-N vergent fold generations and the main and subsidiary planar-linear structures. Although overprinting, these structural elements depict uniform bulk north-directed thrust kinematics and are geometrically compatible with the increments of progressive deformation that develops in same greenschist-facies metamorphic grade. It followed the Early-Middle Jurassic magmatic evolution of the eastern Rhodope-Evros arc established on the upper plate of the southward subducting Maliac-Meliata oceanic lithosphere that established the Vardar Ocean in a supra-subduction back-arc setting. This first event resulted in the thrust-related tectonic emplacement of the Mesozoic schists in a supra-crustal level onto the Rhodope continental margin. This Late Jurassic-Early Cretaceous tectonic event related to N-vergent Balkan orogeny is well-constrained by geochronological data and traced at a regional-scale within distinct units of the Carpatho-Balkan Belt. Following subduction reversal towards the north whereby the Vardar Ocean was subducted beneath the Rhodope margin by latest Cretaceous times, the low-grade schists aquired a new position in the upper plate, and hence, the Mesozoic schists are lacking the Cretaceous S-directed tectono-metamorphic episode whose effects are widespread in the underlying high-grade basement. The subduction of the remnant Vardar Ocean located behind the colliding arc since the middle Cretaceous was responsible for its ultimate closure, Early Tertiary collision with the Pelagonian block and extension in the region caused the extensional collapse related to the second deformational event D 2. This extensional episode was experienced passively by the Mesozoic schists located in the hanging wall of the extensional detachments in Eocene times. It resulted in NE-SW oriented open folds representing corrugation antiforms of the extensional detachment surfaces, brittle faulting and burial history beneath thick Eocene sediments as indicated by 42.1–39.7 Ma 40Ar/ 39Ar mica plateau ages obtained in the study. The results provide structural constraints for the involvement components of Jurassic paleo-subduction zone in a Late Jurassic arc-continental margin collisional history that contributed to accretion-related crustal growth of the Rhodope terrane.

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