Tertiary-Quarternary subduction processes and related magmatism in the Alpine-Mediterranean region

Szabolcs Harangi, Hilary Downes, Ioan Seghedi

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71 Citations (Scopus)


During Tertiary to Quaternary times, convergence between Eurasia and Africa resulted in a variety of collisional orogens and different styles of subduction in the Alpine-Mediterranean region. Characteristic features of this area include arcuate orogenic belts and extensional basins, both of which can be explained by roll-back of subducted slabs and retreating subduction zones. After cessation of active subduction, slab detachment and post-collisional gravitational collapse of the overthickened lithosphere took place. This complex tectonic history was accompanied by the generation of a wide variety of magmas. Most of these magmas (e.g. low-K tholeiitic, calc-alkaline, shoshonitic and ultrapotassic types) have trace element and isotopic fingerprints that are commonly interpreted to reflect enrichment of their source regions by subduction-related fluids. Thus, they can be considered as 'subduction-related' magmas irrespective of their geodynamic relationships. Intraplate alkali basalts are also found in the region and generally postdated the 'subduction-related' volcanism. These mantle-derived magmas have not (or only slightly) been influenced by subduction-related enrichment. This paper summarizes the geodynamic setting of the Tertiary-Quaternary 'subduction-related' magmatism in the various segments of the Alpine-Mediterranean region (Betic-Alboran-Rif province, Central Mediterranean, the Alps, Carpathian-Pannonian region, Dinarides and Hellenides, Aegean and Western Anatolia), and discusses the main characteristics and compositional variation of the magmatic rocks. Radiogenic and stable isotope data indicate the importance of continental crustal material in the genesis of these magmas. Interaction with crustal material probably occurred both in the upper mantle during subduction ('source contamination') and in the continental crust during ascent of mantle-derived magmas (either by mixing with crustal melts or by crustal contamination). The 87Sr/ 86Sr and 206Pb/ 204Pb isotope ratios indicate that an enriched mantle component, akin to the source of intraplate alkali mafic magmas along the Alpine foreland, played a key role in the petrogenesis of the 'subduction-related' magmas of the Alpine-Mediterranean region. This enriched mantle component could be related to mantle plumes or to long-term pollution (deflection of the central Atlantic plume and recycling of crustal material during subduction) of the shallow mantle beneath Europe since the late Mesozoic. In the first case, subduction processes could have had an influence in generating asthenospheric flow by deflecting nearby mantle plumes as a result of slab roll-back or slab break-off. In the second case, the variation in the chemical composition of the volcanic rocks in the Mediterranean region can be explained by 'statistical sampling' of the strongly inhomogeneous mantle followed by variable degrees of crustal contamination.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEuropean Lithosphere Dynamics
EditorsD.G. Gee, R.A. Stephenson
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Publication series

NameGeological Society Memoir
ISSN (Print)0435-4052

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology

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    Harangi, S., Downes, H., & Seghedi, I. (2006). Tertiary-Quarternary subduction processes and related magmatism in the Alpine-Mediterranean region. In D. G. Gee, & R. A. Stephenson (Eds.), European Lithosphere Dynamics (pp. 167-190). (Geological Society Memoir; Vol. 32). https://doi.org/10.1144/GSL.MEM.2006.032.01.10