Interaction Between Magmatism and Continental Extension, Insight From an Extensional Terrain in the Iranian Plateau

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ahmadreza Malekpour Alamdari1, Gary J Axen1 and Jamshid Hassanzadeh2, (1)New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, Socorro, NM, United States, (2)California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, United States
Our knowledge about the spatial and temporal relationship between continental extension and its related magmatism is mainly from the western US where removal of a flat subducting slab from under the continent controlled thermal weakening and some extensional collapse. The Iranian plateau, where flat-slab subduction and its subsequent rollback is suggested for the Tertiary magmatic evolution, is an ideal place to see if a similar interaction exists.

Between the Late Cretaceous and, at least, the Early Eocene, large-scale continental extension affected the NE Iranian plateau. An ~100 km-long, SE tilted upper to mid-crustal section was exhumed by slip along a low-angle, NW-dipping detachment fault. From SE to NW (young to old) this section includes late Cretaceous pelagic limestones of the Kashmar ophiolites, Late and Early Cretaceous sedimentary rocks, and the Late Triassic and older crystalline rocks of the Biarjmand-Shotor Kuh metamorphic core complex. Little pre-extensional magmatic activity exists in the tilted sequence and in surrounding regions, as Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous dikes. Similarly, syn-extensional magmatism is absent. In contrast, the tilted sequence is unconformably overlain by >4000 m of volcanic rocks with age ranging from the Middle Eocene (explosive, calc-alkaline?) to the Late Eocene (effusive, alkaline).

The absence of considerable pre-extensional magmatism in the NE Iranian plateau does not support magma underplating, subsequent thermal weakening and collapse as a mechanism for the extension in this region. It also indicates that the models that consider waning of volcanism as a controlling mechanism for triggering of extensional faulting (Sonder & Jones, 1999) is not applicable for this region. The amagmatic extension may reflect magma crystallization at depth due to reduced confining pressure resulted from active normal faulting and fracturing (Gans & Bohrson, 1998). The extension and related asthenospheric rise may be developed in a back-arc system.