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Dating deformation in the Gran Paradiso Massif (NW Italian Alps): Implications for the exhumation of high-pressure rocks in a collisional belt
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2012 (English)In: Lithos, ISSN 0024-4937, E-ISSN 1872-6143, Vol. 144, 130-144 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The Gran Paradiso massif, situated in the internal part of the Western Italian Alps, records a complex tectono-metamorphic history involving high-pressure metamorphism and subsequent exhumation during retrograde metamorphism. The exact timing of deformation and, consequently, the geodynamic evolution of this part of the Western Alps is still debated and is addressed here by the application of Rb/Sr geochronology, Ar-40/Ar-39 step heating and Ar-40/Ar-39 total fusion dating techniques. Geochronological results are presented from shear zone samples in the core of the Gran Paradiso massif (Piantonetto Valley). and in the area closer to the contact with the overlying Piedmont ophiolitic domain (south and southwest of Pont Valsavarenche). The shear zones operated during crustal thinning and exhumation of the Gran Paradiso massif. Ar-40/Ar-39 step heating results from shear zones in the Piantonetto Valley show acceptable plateau ages that are interpreted to represent two events of mica growth. Similar ages, and an additional younger age cluster, are recognised in the Ar-40/Ar-39 total fusion analyses, indicating that specific cleavage domains operated at 39.2 +/- 0.2, 36.5 +/- 0.6 and 33.3 +/- 0.4 Ma. P-T pseudosections show a progressive decrease in metamorphic conditions during deformation, suggesting that the age of incipient exhumation and the related deformation in the Piantonetto Valley is equal to or older than 39.2 +/- 02 Ma. In the Pont area, the last increments of deformation in a top-to-W shear zone postdate 36.6 +/- 0.6 Ma (Rb/Sr mineral data), whereas the present-day top-to-W contact of the Gran Paradiso massif with the overlying Piedmont domain is dated at 41.2 +/- 1.1 Ma (Rb/Sr multi-mineral isochron age). We propose a model that considers exhumation of the Gran Paradiso nappe at 41-34 Ma. During this period, the nappe was coupled with the Zermatt-Saas zone, forming an extruding wedge. The kinematics associated with this wedge involved top-to-W shearing within the Gran Paradiso nappe (e.g. Pont area shear zones) and top-to-E shearing at the top of the extruding wedge (e.g. Orco shear zone). Subsequent deformation (after similar to 34 Ma) was characterised by coaxial strain involving orogenic-scale backfolding and backthrusting.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 144, 130-144 p.
Keyword [en]
Western Alps, Gran Paradiso Massif, Ar-Ar, Rb-Sr, Dating deformation, Exhumation
National Category
Geochemistry Geophysics
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-80414DOI: 10.1016/j.lithos.2012.04.016ISI: 000306155100009OAI: diva2:556241


Available from: 2012-09-24 Created: 2012-09-19 Last updated: 2012-09-24Bibliographically approved

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Ring, Uwe
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Department of Geological Sciences
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