Paleozoic to Triassic ocean opening and closure preserved in Central Iran: Constraints from the geochemistry of meta-igneous rocks of the Anarak area

David M. Buchs*, Sasan Bagheri, Laure Martin, Joerg Hermann, Richard Arculus

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    67 Citations (Scopus)


    The Anarak area belongs to an ophiolitic belt along the northern border of the Central-East Iranian Microcontinent, and is thought to contain fragments of the former Paleotethys and Neotethys oceans. A wide range of meta-igneous rocks from the Late Paleozoic to Triassic Anarak Metamorphic Complex (AMC) and nearby Meraji area have been studied to constrain the origins and modes of emplacement of oceanic remnants in Central Iran. Our samples occur as layers and lenses embedded in extensive sequences of deformed meta-sediments and smaller bodies of serpentinized ultramafic rocks. Petrographical and geochemical data combined with field and satellite observations allow recognition of seven types of meta-igneous rocks preserved from low grade to blueschist facies conditions. Their origins based on relative abundances of immobile trace elements include subduction zone, mid-ocean ridge, ocean intraplate, and continental rift settings. These data and existing geochronological constraints show the AMC formed an accretionary complex formed/exhumed incrementally during the Carboniferous, Permo-triassic and Triassic. Igneous rocks from Meraji formed in the Early Devonian due to opening of the Paleotethys, and belong to a rift sequence extending over 300. km along the edge of the Central-East Iranian Microcontinent. The AMC and nearby rock associations record the evolution of the Paleotethys during a complete Wilson Cycle between ca. 450 and 225. Ma, with implications for: (1) continental rifting; (2) ocean opening; (3) subduction initiation; (4) ocean intraplate and continued mid-ocean volcanism; (5) ridge subduction; and (6) final closure of the ocean during continent-continent collision. Alternate interpretations of the Anarak metabasites are possible, but require radical departures from the widely accepted model for tectonic evolution of the Paleotethys, with the existence of Paleotethyan backarc basin(s) and Permian or earlier collision of continental blocks in Central Iran. In any case, our results show accretionary complexes preserved along suture zones contain an important record of the evolution of oceanic crust from ancient ocean basins.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-287
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


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