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The Betic Ophiolites and the Mesozoic Evolution of the Western Tethys

Instituto Andaluz de Ciencias de la Tierra (CSIC-UGR), Avda. de las Palmeras 4, 18100 Armilla, Granada, Spain
Research School of Earth Sciences, The Australian National University, Mills Road, ACT 0200 Canberra, Australia
Departamento de Ciencias de la Tierra, Universidad de Huelva, 21071 Huelva, Spain
Departamento de Ingeniería Minera, Geológica y Cartográfica, Universidad Politécnica de Cartagena, 30203 Cartagena, Spain
Parque Natural y Nacional de Sierra Nevada, Consejería de Medio Ambiente y Ordenación del Territorio, 18191 Pinos Genil, Spain
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Ferrara, Via Saragat 1, 44100 Ferrara, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Antonio Acosta-Vigil, Basilios Tsikouras and Jesús Martínez Frías
Geosciences 2017, 7(2), 31;
Received: 17 January 2017 / Revised: 22 March 2017 / Accepted: 6 April 2017 / Published: 20 April 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Petrogenesis of Ophiolites)
The Betic Ophiolites consist of numerous tectonic slices, metric to kilometric in size, of eclogitized mafic and ultramafic rocks associated to oceanic metasediments, deriving from the Betic oceanic domain. The outcrop of these ophiolites is aligned along 250 km in the Mulhacén Complex of the Nevado-Filábride Domain, located at the center-eastern zone of the Betic Cordillera (SE Spain). According to petrological/geochemical inferences and SHRIMP (Sensitive High Resolution Ion Micro-Probe) dating of igneous zircons, the Betic oceanic lithosphere originated along an ultra-slow mid-ocean ridge, after rifting, thinning and breakup of the preexisting continental crust. The Betic oceanic sector, located at the westernmost end of the Tethys Ocean, developed from the Lower to Middle Jurassic (185–170 Ma), just at the beginning of the Pangaea break-up between the Iberia-European and the Africa-Adrian plates. Subsequently, the oceanic spreading migrated northeastward to form the Ligurian and Alpine Tethys oceans, from 165 to 140 Ma. Breakup and oceanization isolated continental remnants, known as the Mesomediterranean Terrane, which were deformed and affected by the Upper Cretaceous-Paleocene Eo-Alpine high-pressure metamorphic event, due to the intra-oceanic subduction of the Jurassic oceanic lithosphere and the related continental margins. This process was followed by the partial exhumation of the subducted oceanic rocks onto their continental margins, forming the Betic and Alpine Ophiolites. Subsequently, along the Upper Oligocene and Miocene, the deformed and metamorphosed Mesomediterranean Terrane was dismembered into different continental blocks collectively known as AlKaPeCa microplate (Alboran, Kabylian, Peloritan and Calabrian). In particular, the Alboran block was displaced toward the SW to occupy its current setting between the Iberian and African plates, due to the Neogene opening of the Algero-Provençal Basin. During this translation, the different domains of the Alboran microplate, forming the Internal Zones of the Betic and Rifean Cordilleras, collided with the External Zones representing the Iberian and African margins and, together with them, underwent the later alpine deformation and metamorphism, characterized by local differences of P-T (Pressure-Temperature) conditions. These Neogene metamorphic processes, known as Meso-Alpine and Neo-Alpine events, developed in the Nevado-Filábride Domain under Ab-Ep amphibolite and greenschists facies conditions, respectively, causing retrogradation and intensive deformation of the Eo-Alpine eclogites. View Full-Text
Keywords: zircon U–Pb SHRIMP dating; eclogitized ophiolites; Pangaea break-up; Western Tethys; Betic Cordillera zircon U–Pb SHRIMP dating; eclogitized ophiolites; Pangaea break-up; Western Tethys; Betic Cordillera
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Puga, E.; Díaz de Federico, A.; Fanning, M.; Nieto, J.M.; Rodríguez Martínez-Conde, J.Á.; Díaz Puga, M.Á.; Lozano, J.A.; Bianchini, G.; Natali, C.; Beccaluva, L. The Betic Ophiolites and the Mesozoic Evolution of the Western Tethys. Geosciences 2017, 7, 31.

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