The Ossa-Morena zone in SW Iberia represents a section of the northern margin of West Gondwana that formed part of a Cordilleran-type orogenic system during the Neoproterozoic (Cadomian orogeny). The crustal section in this zone preserves the record of rifting that led to the opening of the Rheic Ocean in the early Paleozoic and the collision of Gondwana and Laurussia in the late Paleozoic (Variscan orogeny). We present U-Pb zircon data from three alkaline to peralkaline syenites that intruded Neoproterozoic and Cambrian strata and give crystallization ages ranging between ca. 490 Ma and 470 Ma. Lu/Hf isotopic data from these zircons give positive initial εHf values (0 ≤ εHf(t) ≤ +11.5) that approach the model values for the depleted mantle at the time of crystallization. This suggests that a significant proportion of the magma was derived from the mantle, with limited mixing/assimilation with crustal-derived melts. Alkaline/peralkaline magmatic suites of similar age and chemical composition intruded other sections of the northern margin of West Gondwana and along the boundaries of the continental blocks that today make up Iberia. These blocks are further characterized by the presence of high-pressure metamorphic belts that formed during accretion and subsequent collision of peri-Gondwanan domains against Laurussia during the Devonian and Carboniferous (Variscan orogeny). Our U-Pb and Lu-Hf data set indicates that during the Cambrian–Ordovician transition, lithosphere extension reached a stage of narrow intracontinental rifting, where deeply sourced magmas, probably coming from the lower crust and/or the upper mantle, intruded continental upper crust across various sections of previously stretched crust. We propose that necking of the Gondwana lithosphere into several continental microblocks with fertile mantle beneath them compartmentalized extension (multiblock model), which favored the onset of early Paleozoic peralkaline and alkaline magmas. The boundaries of microblocks represent zones of inherited crustal weakness that were later reactivated during the late Paleozoic as major accretionary faults related to the amalgamation of Pangea during the Variscan orogeny. Our dynamic model provides an explanation for the unusual spatial relationship between peralkaline and alkaline igneous provinces (usually shallow in the crust) and the occurrence of high-pressure rocks. Our observations suggest that Cordilleran-type orogens subjected to extension after long-lived subduction can develop wide continental platforms that feature multiple continental blocks. In addition, the formation of sequenced high-pressure belts in collisional orogens can be explained as the ultimate consequence of multiple necking events within continental lithosphere during previous collapse of a Cordilleran-type orogen.
- Received 26 March 2014.
- Revision received 20 October 2014.
- Accepted 18 November 2014.
- © 2014 Geological Society of America