Magma generation and crustal accretion as evidenced by supra-subduction ophiolites of the Albanide-Hellenide Subpelagonian zone

Luigi Beccaluva*, Massimo Coltorti, Emilio Saccani, Franca Siena

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Ophiolites of the Mirdita-Subpelagonian zone form a nearly continuous belt in the Albanide-Hellenide orogen, including mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) associations in the western Mirdita sector and supra-subduction zone (SSZ) complexes, with prevalent island arc tholeiitic (IAT) and minor boninitic affinities in the eastern part of the belt (i.e. eastern Mirdita, Pindos, Vourinos). In addition, basalts with geochemical features intermediate between MORB and IAT (MORB/IAT) are found in the central Mirdita and in the Aspropotamos sequence (Pindos). These basalts alternate with pure MORB and are cut by boninitic dykes. The distinctive compositional characteristics of the mafic magmas parental to the different ophiolitic suites can be accounted for by partial melting of mantle sources progressively depleted by melt extractions. Partial melting processes (10-20%) of lherzolitic sources generated pure MORB, leaving clinopyroxene-poor lherzolite as a residuum. Approximately 10% water-assisted partial melting of this latter source, in an SSZ setting, may in turn generate basalts with MORB/IAT intermediate characteristics, whereas IAT basalts and boninites may have been derived from 10-20% and 30% partial melting, respectively, of the same source variably enriched by subduction-derived fluids. In addition, boninites may also have been derived by comparatively lower degrees of hydrated partial melting of more refractory harzburgitic sources. A generalized petrologic model based on mass balance calculations between bulk rock and mineral compositions, indicate that most of the intrusives (from ultramafic cumulates to gabbronorites and plagiogranites), as well as sheeted dykes and volcanics (from basalts to rhyodacites) forming the bulk crustal section of the SSZ ophiolites, may be accounted for by shallow fractional crystallization from low-Ti picritic parental magmas very similar in composition to IAT picrites from Pacific intraoceanic arcs. The most appropriate tectono-magmatic model for the generation of the SSZ Tethyan ophiolites implies low velocity plate-convergence of the intraoceanic subduction and generation of a nascent arc with IAT affinity and progressive slab roll-back, mantle diapirism and extension from the arc axis to the forearc region, with generation of MORB/IAT intermediate basalts and boninitic magmas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-563
Number of pages13
JournalIsland Arc
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Albanides
  • Hellenides
  • Magma generation
  • Supra-subduction zone
  • Tethyan ophiolites


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