Ophiolitic detritus in Kimmeridgian resedimented limestones and its provenance from an eroded obducted ophiolitic nappe stack south of the Northern Calcareous Alps (Austria)

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The causes for the Middle to Late Jurassic tectonic processes in the Northern Calcareous Alps are still controversially discussed. There are several contrasting models for these processes, formerly designated “Jurassic gravitational tectonics”. Whereas in the Dinarides or the Western Carpathians Jurassic ophiolite obduction and a Jurassic mountain building process with nappe thrusting is widely accepted, equivalent processes are still questioned for the Eastern Alps. For the Northern Calcareous Alps, an Early Cretaceous nappe thrusting process is widely favoured instead of a Jurassic one, obviously all other Jurassic features are nearly identical in the Northern Calcareous Alps, the Western Carpathians and the Dinarides. In contrast, the Jurassic basin evolutionary processes, as best documented in the Northern Calcareous Alps, were in recent times adopted to explain the Jurassic tectonic processes in the Carpathians and Dinarides. Whereas in the Western Carpathians Neotethys oceanic material is incorporated in the mélanges and in the Dinarides huge ophiolite nappes are preserved above the Jurassic basin fills and mélanges, Jurassic ophiolites or ophiolitic remains are not clearly documented in the Northern Calcareous Alps. Here we present chrome spinel analyses of ophiolitic detritic material from Kimmeridgian allodapic limestones in the central Northern Calcareous Alps. The Kimmeridgian age is proven by the occurrence of the benthic foraminifera Protopeneroplis striata and Labyrinthina mirabilis, the dasycladalean algae Salpingoporella pygmea, and the alga incertae sedis Pseudolithocodium carpathicum. From the geochemical composition the analysed spinels are pleonastes and show a dominance of Al-chromites (Fe3+–Cr3+–Al3+ diagram). In the Mg/(Mg+ Fe2+) vs. Cr/(Cr+ Al) diagram they can be classified as type II ophiolites and in the TiO2 vs. Al2O3 diagram they plot into the SSZ peridotite field. All together this points to a harzburgite provenance of the analysed spinels as known from the Jurassic suprasubduction ophiolites well preserved in the Dinarides/Albanides. These data clearly indicate Late Jurassic erosion of obducted ophiolites before their final sealing by the Late Jurassic–earliest Cretaceous carbonate platform pattern.

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