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Diapiric emplacement in the upper crust of a granitic body: the La Bazana granite (SW Spain)

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DOI: 10.1016/s0040-1951(02)00562-0
  • Diapiric Ascent Of Magmas
  • Granite Emplacement
  • Ossa-Morena Zone
  • Variscan Orogeny
  • Mathematics


Abstract The ascent and emplacement of granites in the upper crust is a major geological phenomenon accomplished by a number of different processes. The active processes determine the final geometry of the bodies and, in some favourable cases, the inverse problem of deducing mechanisms can be undertaken by relying on the geometry of plutons. This is the case of the La Bazana granitic pluton, a small Variscan igneous body that intruded Cambrian rocks of the Ossa-Morena Zone (SW Iberian Massif) in the core of a large late upright antiform. The granite shows no appreciable solid-state deformation, but has a late magmatic foliation whose orientation, derived from field observations, defines a gentle dome. The regional attitude of the main foliation in the country rock (parallel to the axial plane of recumbent folds) is NW–SE, but just around the granite, it accommodates to the dome shape of the pluton. Flattening in the host rock on top of the granite is indicated by boudinaged and folded veins, and appears to be caused by an upward pushing of the magma during its emplacement. The dome-shaped foliation of the granite, geometrically and kinematically congruent with the flattening in the host rock, can be related in the same way to the upward pushing of the magma. The level of final emplacement was deduced from the mineral associations in the thermal aureole to be of 7–10 km in depth. Models of the gravity anomaly related to the granite body show that the granite has a teardrop–pipe shape enlarged at its top. Diapiric ascent of the magma through the lower middle crust is inferred until reaching a high viscous level, where final emplacement accompanied by lateral expansion and vertical flattening took place. This natural example suggests that diapirism may be a viable mechanism for migration and emplacement of magmas, at least up to 7–10 km in depth, and it provides natural evidence for theoretical discussion on the ability of magmatic diapirs to pierce the crust.

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