Hyperextension of continental to oceanic-like lithosphere: the record of late gabbros in the shallow subcontinental lithospheric mantle of the westernmost Mediterranean

Karoly Hidas*, Maria Isabel Varas-Reus, Carlos J. Garrido, Claudio Marchesi, Antonio Acosta-Vigil, Jose Alberto Padron-Navarta, Kamal Targuisti, Zoltan Konc

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


We report gabbroic dikes in the plagioclase tectonite domains of the Ojen and Ronda massifs (Betic Cordillera, southern Spain), which retord crystallization at low-pressure syn-, or slightly postkinematic to the late ductile history of the Betic Peridotite in the westernmost Mediterranean. We present mineral major and trace element compositional data of discordant gabbroic dikes in the Ojen massif and gabbroic patches in the Ronda massif, complemented by the whole rock and electron backscattered diffraction (E13SD) data of the Ojen occurrence. In the Ojen massif, gabbro occurs as 1-3 centimeter wide discordant dikes that crosscut the plagioclase tectonite foliation at high angle. These dikes are composed of cm-scale igneous plagioclase and clinopyroxene crystals that show shape preferred orientations subparallel to the lineation of the host peridotite and oblique to the trend of the dike. Intrusion of Ojen gabbro dikes is coherent with the stress field that formed the high temperature, ductile plagioclase tectonite foliation and then attests for a mantle igneous event prior to the intracrustal emplacement of the massif. In the Ronda massif, gabbroic rocks crystallized in subcentimeter wide anastomozing veins, or as interstitial patches in the host dunite. They are mostly composed of plagioclase and clinopyroxene. Plagioclase composition is bytownitic in the Ojen, and andesinic in the Ronda massif. Clinopyroxene in both places shows identical, light Rare-Earth Element (LREE) depleted trace element patterns. The calculated trace element composition of melts in exchange equilibrium with the studied igneous clinopyroxenes reflects LREE-enriched character coupled with negative Eu anomaly, and indicates that gabbro-forming melts in Ronda and Ojen share a common melt source with an island arc tholeiitic affinity. Geothermobarometric data and liquidus mineralogy indicate that gabbro crystallization occurred at shallow depths (0.2-0.5 GPa) in a 7-16 km thick lithospheric section. These data suggest that gabbro-forming melts in the Betic Peridotite record a mantle igneous event at very shallow depths and provide evidence for the hyperextension of the continental lithosphere compatible with extreme backarc basin extension induced by the slab rollback of the Cenozoic subduction system in the westernmost Mediterranean. (C) 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-79
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Gabbro
  • Hyperextension
  • Continental lithospheric mantle
  • Ronda massif
  • Ojén massif
  • Trace element geochemistry


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