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Volcanic Markers of the Post-Subduction Evolution of Baja California and Sonora, Mexico: Slab Tearing Versus Lithospheric Rupture of the Gulf of California

Abstract : The study of the geochemical compositions and K-Ar or Ar-Ar ages of ca. 350 Neogene and Quaternary lavas from Baja California, the Gulf of California and Sonora allows us to discuss the nature of their mantle or crustal sources, the conditions of their melting and the tectonic regime prevailing during their genesis and emplacement. Nine petrographic/geochemical groups are distinguished: ''regular'' calc-alkaline lavas; adakites; magnesian andesites and related basalts and basaltic andesites; niobium-enriched basalts; alkali basalts and trachybasalts; oceanic (MORB-type) basalts; tholeiitic/transitional basalts and basaltic andesites; peralkaline rhyolites (comendites); and icelandites. We show that the spatial and temporal distribution of these lava types provides constraints on their sources and the geodynamic setting controlling their partial melting. Three successive stages are distinguished. Between 23 and 13 Ma, calc-alkaline lavas linked to the subduction of the Pacific-Farallon plate formed the Comondu' and central coast of the Sonora volcanic arc. In the extensional domain of western Sonora, lithospheric mantle-derived tholeiitic to transitional basalts and basaltic andesites were emplaced within the southern extension of the Basin and Range province. The end of the Farallon subduction was marked by the emplacement of much more complex Middle to Late Miocene volcanic associations, between 13 and 7 Ma. Calc-alkaline activity became sporadic and was replaced by unusual post-subduction magma types including adakites, niobium-enriched basalts, magnesian andesites, comendites and icelandites. The spatial and temporal distribution of these lavas is consistent with the development of a slab tear, evolving into a 200-km-wide slab window sub-parallel to the trench, and extending from the Pacific coast of Baja California to coastal Sonora. Tholeiitic, transitional and alkali basalts of subslab origin ascended through this window, and adakites derived from the partial melting of its upper lip, relatively close to the trench. Calcalkaline lavas, magnesian andesites and niobium-enriched basalts formed from hydrous melting of the supraslab mantle triggered by the uprise of hot Pacific asthenosphere through the window. During the Plio-Quaternary, the ''no-slab'' regime following the sinking of the old part of the Farallon plate within the deep mantle allowed the emplacement of alkali and tholeiitic/transitional basalts of deep asthenospheric origin in Baja California and Sonora. The lithospheric rupture connected with the opening of the Gulf of California generated a high thermal regime associated to asthenospheric uprise and emplaced Quaternary depleted MORB-type tholeiites. This thermal regime also induced partial melting of the thinned lithospheric mantle of the Gulf area, generating calcalkaline lavas as well as adakites derived from slivers of oceanic crust incorporated within this mantle.
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Thierry Calmus, Carlos Pallares, René Maury, Alfredo Aguillón-Robles, Hervé Bellon, et al.. Volcanic Markers of the Post-Subduction Evolution of Baja California and Sonora, Mexico: Slab Tearing Versus Lithospheric Rupture of the Gulf of California. Pure and Applied Geophysics, Springer Verlag, 2011, 168 (8-9), pp.1303-1330. ⟨10.1007/s00024-010-0204-z⟩. ⟨insu-00543676⟩

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