The eclogite-facies Monviso ophiolite in the western Alps displays a complex record of Jurassic rift-drift, subduction zone, and Cenozoic collision tectonics in its evolutionary history. Serpentinized lherzolites intruded by 163 ± 2 Ma gabbros are exposed in the footwall of a thick shear zone (Baracun shear zone) and are overlain by basaltic lava flows and synextensional sedimentary rocks in the hanging wall. Mylonitic serpentinites with sheared ophicarbonate veins and talc-and-chlorite schist rocks within the Baracun shear zone represent a rock assemblage that formed from seawater-derived hydrothermal fluids percolating through it during intra-oceanic extensional exhumation. A Lower Cretaceous calc-schist, marble, and quartz-schist metasedimentary assemblage unconformably overlies the footwall and hanging-wall units, representing a postextensional sequence. The Monviso ophiolite, Baracun shear zone, and the associated structures and mineral phases represent core complex formation in an embryonic ocean (i.e., the Ligurian-Piedmont Ocean). The heterogeneous lithostratigraphy and the structural architecture of the Monviso ophiolite documented here are the products of rift-drift processes that were subsequently overprinted by subduction zone tectonics, and they may also be recognized in other (ultra)high-pressure belts worldwide.
- Received 8 April 2015.
- Revision received 8 July 2015.
- Accepted 22 July 2015.
- © 2015 Geological Society of America