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In the Mt. Olympos region of northeastern Greece, continental margin strata and basement rocks were subducted and metamorphosed under blueschist facies conditions, and thrust over carbonate platform strata during Alpine orogenesis. Subsequent exposure of the subducted basement rocks by normal faulting has allowed an integrated study of the timing of metamorphism, its relationship to deformation, and the thermal history of the subducted terrane. Alpine low-grade metamorphic assemblages occur at four structural levels. Three thrust sheets composed of Paleozoic granitic basement and Mesozoic metasedimentary cover were thrust over Mesozoic carbonate rocks and Eocene flysch; thrusting and metamorphism occurred first in the highest thrust sheets and progressed downward as units were imbricated from NE to SW. 40Ar/39Ar spectra from hornblende, white mica, and biotite samples indicate that the upper two units preserve evidence of four distinct thermal events: (1) 293–302 Ma crystallization of granites, with cooling from >550°C to <325°C by 284 Ma; (2) 98–100 Ma greenschist to blueschist-greenschist transition facies metamorphism (T∼350–500°C) and imbrication of continental thrust sheets; (3) 53–61 Ma blueschist facies metamorphism and deformation of the basement and continental margin units at T<350–400°C; (4) 36–40 Ma thrusting of blueschists over the carbonate platform, and metamorphism at T∼200–350°C. Only the Eocene and younger events affected the lower two structural packages. A fifth event, indicated by diffusive loss profiles in microcline spectra, reflects the beginning of uplift and cooling to T<100–150°C at 16–23 Ma, associated with normal faulting which continued until Quaternary time. Incomplete resetting of mica ages in all units constrains the temperature of metamorphism during continental subduction to T≤350°C, the closure temperature for Ar in muscovite. The diffusive loss profiles in micas and K-feldspars enable us to “see through” the younger events to older events in the high-T parts of the release spectra. Micas grown during earlier metamorphic events lost relatively small amounts of Ar during subsequent high pressure-low temperature metamorphism. Release spectra from phengites grown during Eocene metamorphism and deformation record the ages of the Ar-loss events. Alpine deformation in northern Greece occurred over a long time span (∼90 Ma), and involved subduction and episodic imbrication of continental basement before, during, and after the collision of the Apulian and Eurasian plates. Syn-subduction uplift and cooling probably combined with intermittently higher cooling rates during extensional events to preserve the blueschist facies mineral assemblages as they were exhumed from depths of >20 km. Extension in the Olympos region was synchronous with extension in the Mesohellenic trough and the Aegean back-arc, and concurrent with westward-progressing shortening in the external Hellenides.

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Schermer, ER, Lux, DR, and Burchfiel, BC, 1990, Temperature-Time History of Subducted Continental-Crust, Mount Olympos Region, Greece: Tectonics, v. 9, p. 1165-1195. To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.

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© Copyright 1990 American Geophysical Union




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