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Petrography and geochemistry of accreted oceanic fragments below the Western Cordillera of Ecuador

Abstract : The Western Cordillera of Ecuador consists of Cretaceous crustal fragments of oceanic plateaux and superimposed insular arcs, which were accreted to the northwestern South American margin during the Late Cretaceous and Paleocene. Slices of high-grade metabasites, ultramafic rocks, gabbros and basalts, unmetamorphosed radiolarian cherts and scarce garnet-bearing metasediments were randomly exhumed along Miocene to Recent transcurrent faults crosscutting the Western Cordillera. The basalts show geochemical characteristics of oceanic plateau basalts (flat REE patterns, La/Nb = 0.85). The gabbros differ from the basalts in having lower REE levels, positive Eu anomalies, and negative Nb and Ta anomalies; they are interpreted as resulting from arc magmatism. The amphibolites and banded amphibolites have major and trace element chemistry similar to that of oceanic plateau basalts (flat REE patterns, La/Nb = 0.86) or to cumulate gabbros. The granulite shares with oceanic plateaus similar trace element chemistry (flat REE patterns, La/Nb < 1) and εNdi values (+7.6). Continent-derived metasediments are depleted in heavy REE (La/Y = 4.8) and have a negative Eu anomaly. Foliated lherzolites, melagabbronorites and pyroxenites consist of serpentinized olivine + cpx + opx ± Ca-plagioclase. Lherzolites, melagabbronorites and pyroxenites are LREE depleted with positive Eu anomalies, while the harzburgite displays a U-shaped REE pattern. The trace element abundances of the ultramafic rocks are very low (0.1 to 1 times the chondritic and primitive mantle values). The ultramafic rocks represent fragments of depleted mantle, deformed cpx-rich cumulate, and continental lithospheric mantle or mantle contaminated by subduction-fluid. Except the scarce quartz-rich metasediments, all these rocks likely represent remnants of accreted oceanic crustal fragments and associated depleted mantle. Since these samples were randomly sampled at depth by the fault, we propose that the Western Cordillera and its crustal root are mainly of oceanic nature.
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Submitted on : Thursday, March 15, 2012 - 10:48:19 AM
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Amórtegui Andrea, Etienne Jaillard, Lapierre Henriette, Jean-Emmanuel Martelat, Delphine Bosch, et al.. Petrography and geochemistry of accreted oceanic fragments below the Western Cordillera of Ecuador. Geochemical Journal -Japan-, The Geochemical Society of Japan, 2011, 45 (1), pp.57-78. ⟨10.2343/geochemj.1.0091⟩. ⟨insu-00679228⟩



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