Tectonic framework of the Cabo Ortegal Complex: A slab of lower crust exhumed in the Variscan orogen (northwestern Iberian Peninsula)

A. Marcos, P. Farias, G. Galán, F. J. Fernández, S. Llana-Fünez

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The Cabo Ortegal Complex is a composite allochthonous terrane that was thrust onto the western edge of Gondwana during the Variscan orogeny. It is formed of two main tectonic units: the Upper Tectonic unit, comprising rocks affected by highpressure (P)-high-temperature (T) metamorphism, and the Lower Tectonic unit, which represents the resulting suture of the Variscan collision. The suture preserves remnants of strongly deformed and metamorphosed ophiolitic rocks overriding the parautochthon, and the lower Paleozoic sequence of the Ollo de Sapo antiform, regarded as the autochthonous sequence of the Iberian plate. The Upper Tectonic unit is formed by layered ultramafic, mafic, and quartzo-felspathic rocks that were buried at levels in excess of 50 km (∼1.56 GPa) before the Variscan collision in a convergent plate boundary within the Rheic ocean domain ca. 490-480 Ma (Early Ordovician). They have been interpreted either (1) as an earlier thinned continental crust, underlain by a lithospheric mantle and oceanic spreading, or (2) as independent terranes, formed in different geodynamic settings (island arc, oceanic). Most structures observed in these rocks are ductile and are associated to their exhumation process. It started with the development of a persistent horizontal foliation in granulite facies conditions, which equilibrated in amphibolite facies conditions ca. 385 Ma, and ended in higher crustal levels with the progressive development of noncoaxial structures, such as eastverging asymmetrical isoclinal folds and thrusts, leading to the emplacement of the Upper Tectonic unit over the Lower Tectonic unit ca. 365 Ma (Late Devonian).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-162
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002


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