Origin and metamorphism of ultrabasic rocks associated with a subducted continental margin, Naxos (Cyclades, Greece)

Y. Katzir*, D. Avigad, A. Matthews, Z. Garfunkel, B. W. Evans

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Meta-peridotites outcropping at different structural levels within the Alpine metamorphic complex of the Cycladic island of Naxos were studied to re-examine their metamorphic evolution and possible tectonic mechanisms for emplacement of mantle material into the continental crust. The continental margin section exposed on Naxos, consisting of pre-Alpine basement and c. 7 km thick Mesozoic platform cover, has undergone intense metamorphism of Alpine age, comprising an Eocene (M1) blueschist event strongly overprinted by a Miocene Barrovian-type event (M2). Structural concordance with the country rocks and metasomatic zonation at the contact with the felsic host rocks indicate that the meta-peridotites have experienced the M2 metamorphism. This conclusion is supported by the similarity between metamorphic temperatures of the ultrabasic rocks and those of the host rocks. Maximum temperatures of 730-760 °C were calculated for the upper-amphibolite facies meta-peridotites (Fo-En-Hbl-Chl-Spl), associated with sillimanite gneisses and migmatites. Relict phases in ultrabasics of different structural levels indicate two distinct pre-M2 histories: whereas the cover-associated horizons have been affected by low-grade serpentinization prior to metamorphism, the basement- associated meta-peridotites show no signs of serpentinization and instead preserve some of their original mantle assemblage. The geochemical affinities of the two groups are also different. The basement-associated meta-peridotites retain their original composition indicating derivation by fractional partial melting of primitive lherzolite, whereas serpentinization has led to almost complete Ca-loss in the second group. The cover-associated ultrabasics are interpreted as remnants of an ophiolite sequence obducted on the adjacent continental shelf early in the Alpine orogenesis. In contrast, the basement-associated meta-peridotites were tectonically interleaved with the Naxos section at great depth during the Alpine collision and high P/T metamorphism. Their emplacement at the base of the orogenic wedge is inferred to have involved isobaric cooling from temperatures of c. 1050 °C within the spinel lherzolite field to eclogite facies temperatures of c. 600 °C.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)301-318
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1999


  • Continental crust
  • Meta-peridotites
  • Naxos
  • Orogen


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