Swiss Journal of Geosciences

, Volume 111, Issue 1–2, pp 35–49 | Cite as

The Morcles microgranite (Aiguilles Rouges, Swiss Alps): geochronological and geochemical evidences for a common origin with the Vallorcine intrusion

  • Denise Bussien Grosjean
  • Nicolas Meisser
  • Sylvie May-Leresche
  • Alexey Ulianov
  • Pierre Vonlanthen


The Morcles microgranite is located in the N–E termination of the Aiguilles Rouges massif (External Crystalline Massifs, Switzerland). It outcrops as dykes, a few meters to 150 m in thickness, intruding the Aiguilles Rouges polymetamorphic basement, and presents variation of texture from granophyric to rhyolitic. We present here for the first time, in situ U–Pb zircon dating of the Morcles microgranite/rhyolite based on laser-ablation—inductively coupled plasma—mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) data. Results indicate late Variscan emplacement ages at ~303 and ~309–312 Ma, a major Caledonian inherited component age at ~445–460 Ma, and secondary inherited ages ranging from Pan-African (550–1000 Ma) to Paleoproterozoic (2.3 Ga). Geochronological and geochemical data indicate that the Morcles microgranite/rhyolite shares a common origin with the higher (or “H”) facies of the neighbouring Vallorcine granitic intrusion. This close affinity is further corroborated by the geographical alignment of both intrusive bodies on either side of the Rhone Valley. The fine-grained texture of the microgranite groundmass and the rhyolite indicates a very rapid cooling rate and emplacement close to the surface, suggesting that the Morcles microgranite/rhyolite may constitute the shallow-level counterpart of the Vallorcine granite. The mineralogical assemblages observed in the Morcles microgranite/rhyolite support the idea of high-temperature melting conditions provided by underplating of mantle-derived magmas during the Carboniferous extension of the Variscan cordillera.


Zircon U–Pb dating Aiguilles Rouges massif Vallorcine intrusion Late-Variscan magmatism 



The authors would like to dedicate this article to S. Ayrton (†) who drew our intention to the Morcles microgranite already back in 1990. The XRF results were obtained thanks to the collaborators of the Centre d’Analyse Minérale (CAM) of the University of Lausanne (Switzerland), in particular J.-C. Lavanchy and H.-R. Pfeifer whose help is gratefully acknowledged. We also thank F. Bussy for the many helpful discussions and advices, as well as G. Borel and O. Müntener for administrative support and laboratory access. Finally, we are very grateful to J. F. von Raumer, and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive remarks and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 28 kb)


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© Swiss Geological Society 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Musée Cantonal de GéologieUNIL-AnthropoleLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.Chemin de Sur VilleBussy-ChardonneySwitzerland
  3. 3.Institut des Sciences de la TerreUNIL-GéopolisLausanneSwitzerland

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