Composition and evolution of lithosphere beneath the Carpathian-Pannonian Region: A review

C. Szabó, Gy Falus, Z. Zajacz, I. Kovács, E. Bali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Citations (Scopus)


Our knowledge of the lithosphere beneath the Carpathian-Pannonian Region (CPR) has been greatly improved through petrologic, geochemical and isotopic studies of upper mantle xenoliths hosted by Neogene-Quaternary alkali basalts. These basalts occur at the edge of the Intra-Carpathian Basin System (Styrian Basin, Nógrád-Gömör and Eastern Transylvanian Basin) and its central portion (Little Hungarian Plain, Bakony-Balaton Highland). The xenoliths are mostly spinel lherzolites, accompanied by subordinate pyroxenites, websterites, wehrlites, harzburgites and dunites. The peridotites represent residual mantle material showing textural and geochemical evidence for a complex history of melting and recrystallization, irrespective of location within the region. The lithospheric mantle is more deformed in the center of the studied area than towards the edges. The deformation may be attributed to a combination of extension and asthenospheric upwelling in the late Tertiary, which strongly affected the central part of CPR subcontinental lithosphere. The peridotite xenoliths studied show bulk compositions in the following range: 35-48 wt.% MgO, 0.5-4.0 wt.% CaO and 0.2-4.5 wt.% Al2O3 with no significant differences in regard to their geographical location. On the other hand, mineral compositions, particularly of clinopyroxene, vary according to xenolith texture. Clinopyroxenes from less deformed xenoliths show higher contents of 'basaltic' major elements compared to the more deformed xenoliths. However, clinopyroxenes in more deformed xenoliths are relatively enriched in strongly incompatible trace elements such as light rare earth elements (LREE). Modal metasomatic products occur as both hydrous phases, including pargasitic and kearsutitic amphiboles and minor phlogopitic micas, and anhydrous phases - mostly clinopyroxene and orthopyroxene. Vein material is dominated by the two latter phases but may also include amphibole. Amphibole mostly occurs as interstitial phases, however, and is more common than phlogopite. Most metasomatized peridotites show chemical and (sometimes) textural evidence for re-equilibration between metasomatic and non-metasomatic phases. However, amphiboles in pyroxenites are sometimes enriched in K, Fe and LREE. The presence of partially crystallized melt pockets (related to amphiboles and clinopyroxenes) in both peridotites and pyroxenites is an indication of decompression melting and, rarely, incipient partial melting triggered by migrating hydrous melts or fluids. Metasomatic contaminants may be ascribed to contemporaneous subduction beneath the Carpathian-Pannonian Region between the Eocene and Miocene. Sulfide inclusions are more abundant in protogranular and porphyroclastic xenoliths relative to equigranular types. In mantle lithologies, sulfide bleb compositions vary between pentlandite and pyrrhotite correlating with the chemistry and texture of the host xenoliths. While sulfides in peridotites are relatively rich in Ni, those in clinopyroxene-rich xenoliths are notably Fe-rich.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
Issue number1-4 SPEC.ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Nov 18 2004


  • Carpathian-Pannonian Region
  • Deformation
  • Lithosphere
  • Melt pockets
  • Metasomatism
  • Sulfide inclusions
  • Upper mantle xenoliths

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth-Surface Processes

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