Subduction, ophiolite genesis and collision history of Tethys adjacent to the Eurasian continental margin: New evidence from the Eastern Pontides, Turkey

Alastair Robertson*, Osman Parlak, Timur Ustaömer, Kemal Tasli, Nurdan Inan, Paulian Dumitrica, Fatih Karaoǧlan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents several types of new information including U-Pb radiometric dating of ophiolitic rocks and an intrusive granite, micropalaeontological dating of siliceous and calcareous sedimentary rocks, together with sedimentological, petrographic and structural data. The new information is synthesised with existing results from the study area and adjacent regions (Central Pontides and Lesser Caucasus) to produce a new tectonic model for the Mesozoic-Cenozoic tectonic development of this key Tethyan suture zone.The Tethyan suture zone in NE Turkey (Ankara-Erzincan-Kars suture zone) exemplifies stages in the subduction, suturing and post-collisional deformation of a Mesozoic ocean basin that existed between the Eurasian (Pontide) and Gondwanan (Tauride) continents. Ophiolitic rocks, both as intact and as dismembered sequences, together with an intrusive granite (tonalite), formed during the Early Jurassic in a supra-subduction zone (SSZ) setting within the İzmir-Ankara-Erzincan ocean. Basalts also occur as blocks and dismembered thrust sheets within Cretaceous accretionary melange. During the Early Jurassic, these basalts erupted in both a SSZ-type setting and in an intra-plate (seamount-type) setting. The volcanic-sedimentary melange accreted in an open-ocean setting in response to Cretaceous northward subduction beneath a backstop made up of Early Jurassic forearc ophiolitic crust. The Early Jurassic SSZ basalts in the melange were later detached from the overriding Early Jurassic ophiolitic crust.Sedimentary melange (debris-flow deposits) locally includes ophiolitic extrusive rocks of boninitic composition that were metamorphosed under high-pressure low-temperature conditions. Slices of mainly Cretaceous clastic sedimentary rocks within the suture zone are interpreted as a deformed forearc basin that bordered the Eurasian active margin. The basin received a copious supply of sediments derived from Late Cretaceous arc volcanism together with input of ophiolitic detritus from accreted oceanic crust.Accretionary melange was emplaced southwards onto the leading edge of the Tauride continent (Munzur Massif) during latest Cretaceous time. Accretionary melange was also emplaced northwards over the collapsed southern edge of the Eurasian continental margin (continental backstop) during the latest Cretaceous. Sedimentation persisted into the Early Eocene in more northerly areas of the Eurasian margin.Collision of the Tauride and Eurasian continents took place progressively during latest Late Palaeocene-Early Eocene. The Jurassic SSZ ophiolites and the Cretaceous accretionary melange finally docked with the Eurasian margin. Coarse clastic sediments were shed from the uplifted Eurasian margin and infilled a narrow peripheral basin. Gravity flows accumulated in thrust-top piggyback basins above accretionary melange and dismembered ophiolites and also in a post-collisional peripheral basin above Eurasian crust. Thickening of the accretionary wedge triggered large-scale out-of-sequence thrusting and re-thrusting of continental margin and ophiolitic units. Collision culminated in detachment and northward thrusting on a regional scale.Collisional deformation of the suture zone ended prior to the Mid-Eocene (~45 Ma) when the Eurasian margin was transgressed by non-marine and/or shallow-marine sediments. The foreland became volcanically active and subsided strongly during Mid-Eocene, possibly related to post-collisional slab rollback and/or delamination. The present structure and morphology of the suture zone was strongly influenced by several phases of mostly S-directed suture zone tightening (Late Eocene; pre-Pliocene), possible slab break-off and right-lateral strike-slip along the North Anatolian Transform Fault.In the wider regional context, a double subduction zone model is preferred, in which northward subduction was active during the Jurassic and Cretaceous, both within the Tethyan ocean and bordering the Eurasian continental margin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-293
Number of pages64
JournalGeodinamica Acta
Issue number3-4
Early online date6 May 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2013


  • collision
  • Eastern Pontides
  • ophiolites
  • subduction
  • Turkey


Dive into the research topics of 'Subduction, ophiolite genesis and collision history of Tethys adjacent to the Eurasian continental margin: New evidence from the Eastern Pontides, Turkey'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this