, Volume 97, Issue 4, pp 865-881

Mirdita Zone ophiolites and associated sediments in Albania reveal Neotethys Ocean origin

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The Mirdita Ophiolite Zone in Albania is associated with widespread mélanges containing components of up to nappe-size. We dated matrix and components of the mélange by radiolarians, conodonts, and other taxa. The components consist of radiolarites, pelagic limestones and shallow-water limestones, all of Triassic age, as well as ophiolites. Triassic radiolarite as a primary cover of ophiolite material proves Middle Triassic onset of Mirdita ocean-floor formation. The mélange contains a turbiditic radiolarite-rich matrix (“radiolaritic flysch”), dated as Late Bajocian to Early Oxfordian. It formed as a synorogenic sediment during west-directed thrusting of ophiolite and sediment-cover nappes representing ocean floor and underplated fragments of the western continental margin. The tectonic structures formed during these orogenic events (“Younger Kimmeridian or Eohellenic Orogeny”) are sealed by Late Jurassic platform carbonates. The geological history conforms with that of the Inner Dinarides and adjoining areas; we therefore correlate the Mirdita-Pindos Ophiolite Zone with the Vardar Zone and explain its present position by far-distance west-directed thrusting.