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Journal Articles Tectonophysics Year : 2014

Rheological conditions for emplacement of Ural-Alaskan-type ultramafic complexes


Ural-Alaskan- (or Alaskan-) type complexes correspond to a particular class of ultramafic intrusions that attract particular attention due to their deep mantle origin and their platinumgroup element (PGE) mineralization. When defined as massifs of dunite-clinopyroxenite, only forty-six complexes are reported in the literature. These large-scale dunite pipe-like structures are rarely isolated and they even can appear in clusters. To better understand genesis of these relatively young (< 460 Ma) complexes, a worldwide compilation has been built, and three categories have been defined: single circular or elliptical bodies, twin bodies with similar shapes, and dismembered dunite bodies. PGE enrichment in Alaskan-type complexes is highest for the second category, where twin bodies are interpreted as horizontal sections of Y-shaped dunite pipes. To constrain mechanical properties of the lithosphere allowing emplacement of the Alaskan-type complexes, the forceful diapiric ascent hypothesis is investigated through numerical thermo-mechanical models. One hundred high resolution experiments accounting for realistic phase changes and softening mechanisms have been performed. The experiments show that with no rheological softening of the host rock and in case of a relatively weak ductile lower crust, the uprising magma tends to spread laterally without reaching the surface. To account for the forceful ascent of deep magmas, it is hence necessary to assume a strong lower crust rheology and strong local softening mechanisms. Besides reproducing the clustered distribution of the weakness zones representing magma pathways, these latter experiments reproduce large-scale pipe-like (cylindrical) structures, Y-shaped and funnel-shaped bodies, and laterally-shifted structures. Interestingly, zones of highest strain rates are located at the bottom parts of the inclined edges of Y-shaped and funnel-shaped bodies. The restricted age range of Alaskan-type complexes (< 460 Ma) would mean that prior to this time, the lower crust was less resistant due to the hotter geotherm, prohibiting the possibility of "Alaskan-type magmatism".
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hal-00946174 , version 1 (13-02-2014)



Laurent Guillou-Frottier, Evgenii E.B. Burov, Thierry Augé, Eric Gloaguen. Rheological conditions for emplacement of Ural-Alaskan-type ultramafic complexes. Tectonophysics, 2014, 631, pp.130-145. ⟨10.1016/j.tecto.2014.02.002⟩. ⟨hal-00946174⟩
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