Mineralium Deposita

, Volume 43, Issue 1, pp 1-21

First online:

Tectonic configuration of the Apuseni–Banat—Timok–Srednogorie belt, Balkans-South Carpathians, constrained by high precision Re–Os molybdenite ages

  • Aaron ZimmermanAffiliated withAIRIE Program, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State University Email author 
  • , Holly J. SteinAffiliated withAIRIE Program, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State UniversityNorges geologiske undersøkelse (NGU)
  • , Judith L. HannahAffiliated withAIRIE Program, Department of Geosciences, Colorado State UniversityNorges geologiske undersøkelse (NGU)
  • , Dejan KoželjAffiliated withSouth Danube Metals
  • , Kamen BogdanovAffiliated withDepartment of Mineralogy, Petrology and Economic Geology, Sofia University
  • , Tudor BerzaAffiliated withGeological Institute of Romania

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The Apuseni–Banat–Timok–Srednogorie magmatic–metallogenic belt (ABTS belt), forms a substantial metallogenic province in the Balkan-South Carpathian system in southeastern Europe. The belt hosts porphyry, skarn, and epithermal deposits mined since pre-Roman times. Generally, the deposits, prospects, and occurrences within the belt are linked to magmatic centers of calc-alkaline affinity. Fifty-one rhenium-osmium (Re–Os) ages and Re concentration data for molybdenites define systematic geochronologic trends and constrain the geochemical-metallogenic evolution of the belt in space and time. From these data and additional existing geologic-geochemical data, a general tectonic history for the belt is proposed. Mineralization ages in Apuseni-Banat, Timok, and Panagyurishte (the central district of the larger E–W Srednogorie Zone) range from 72–83, 81–88, and 87–92 Ma, respectively, and clearly document increasing age from the northwestern districts to the southeastern districts. Further, Re–Os ages suggest rapidly migrating pulses of Late Cretaceous magmatic–hydrothermal activity with construction of deposits in ~1 m.y., districts in ~10 m.y., and the entire 1,500 km belt in ~20 m.y. Ages in both Timok and Panagyurishte show systematic younging, while deposit ages in Banat and Apuseni are less systematic reflecting a restricted evolution of the tectonic system. Systematic differences are also observed for molybdenite Re concentrations on the belt scale. Re concentrations generally range from hundreds to thousands of parts per million, typical of subduction-related Cu–Au–Mo–(PGE) porphyry systems associated with the generation of juvenile crust. The geochronologic and geochemical trends are compatible with proposed steepening of subducting oceanic slab and relaxation of upper continental plate compression. Resulting influx of sub-continental mantle lithosphere (SCML) and asthenosphere provide a fertile metal source and heat, while the subducting slab contributes connate and mineral dehydration fluids, which facilitate partial melting and metal leaching of SCML and asthenosphere. Cu–Au–Mo–(PGE) porphyry deposits may develop where melts are trapped at shallow crustal levels, often with associated volcanism and epithermal-style deposits (South Banat, Timok, and Panagyurishte). Mo–Fe–Pb–Zn skarn deposits may develop where felsic melts are trapped adjacent to Mesozoic limestones at moderate crustal levels (North Banat and Apuseni). Systematic spatial variations in deposit style, commodity enrichment, Re–Os ages, and Re concentrations support specific tectonic processes that led to ore formation. In a post-collisional setting, subduction of Vardar oceanic crust may have stalled, causing slab steepening and rollback. The slab rollback relaxes compression, facilitating and enhancing orogenic collapse of previously thickened Balkan-South Carpathian crust. The progression of coupled rollback-orogenic collapse is evidenced by the width of Late Cretaceous extensional basins and northward younging of Re–Os ages, from Panagyurishte (~60 km; 92–87 Ma) to Timok (~20 km; 88–81 Ma) to Apuseni-Banat (~5 km; 83–72 Ma). Generation of a well-endowed mineral belt, such as the ABTS, requires a temporally and spatially restricted window of magmatic–hydrothermal activity. This window is quickly opened as upper plate compression relaxes, thereby inducing melt generation and ingress of melt to higher crustal levels. The window is just as quickly closed as upper plate compression is reinstated. The transient tectonic state responsible for economic mineralization in the ABTS belt may be a paleo-analogue to transient intervals in the present subduction tectonics of SE Asia where much mineral wealth has been created in the last few million years.


Re–Os, molybdenite Copper porphyry Romania Serbia Bulgaria Slab rollback Orogenic collapse