Constraints on the thermal evolution of the Adriatic margin during Jurassic continental break-up: U–Pb dating of rutile from the Ivrea–Verbano Zone, Italy

  • Tanya A. Ewing
  • Daniela Rubatto
  • Marco Beltrando
  • Jörg Hermann
Original Paper


The Ivrea–Verbano Zone (IVZ), northern Italy, exposes an attenuated section through the Permian lower crust that records high-temperature metamorphism under lower crustal conditions and a protracted history of extension and exhumation associated partly with the Jurassic opening of the Alpine Tethys ocean. This study presents SHRIMP U–Pb geochronology of rutile from seven granulite facies metapelites from the base of the IVZ, collected from locations spanning ~35 km along the strike of Paleozoic fabrics. Rutile crystallised during Permian high-temperature metamorphism and anatexis, yet all samples give Jurassic rutile U–Pb ages that record cooling through 650–550 °C. Rutile age distributions are dominated by a peak at ~160 Ma, with a subordinate peak at ~175 Ma. Both ~160 and ~175 Ma age populations show excellent agreement between samples, indicating that the two distinctive cooling stages they record were synchronous on a regional scale. The ~175 Ma population is interpreted to record cooling in the footwall of rift-related faults and shear zones, for which widespread activity in the Lower Jurassic has been documented along the western margin of the Adriatic plate. The ~160 Ma age population postdates the activity of all known rift-related structures within the Adriatic margin, but coincides with extensive gabbroic magmatism and exhumation of sub-continental mantle to the floor of the Alpine Tethys, west of the Ivrea Zone. We propose that this ~160 Ma early post-rift age population records regional cooling following episodic heating of the distal Adriatic margin, likely related to extreme lithospheric thinning and associated advection of the asthenosphere to shallow levels. The partial preservation of the ~175 Ma age cluster suggests that the post-rift (~160 Ma) heating pulse was of short duration. The regional consistency of the data presented here, which is in contrast to many other thermochronometers in the IVZ, demonstrates the value of the rutile U–Pb technique for probing the thermal evolution of high-grade metamorphic terrains. In the IVZ, a significant decoupling between Zr-in-rutile temperatures and U–Pb ages of rutile is observed, with the two systems recording events ~120 Ma apart.


Ivrea–Verbano Zone Rutile U–Pb dating Adriatic margin Thermochronology 



We thank P. Holden, T. Ireland and I. Williams for constructive discussions on geochronology by SHRIMP and analytical assistance, and introducing us to the 3-U plot (I. Williams). We thank the ANU Centre for Advanced Microscopy for access to their SEM and technical support. T. Duretz is thanked for discussions on thermal modelling. We are indebted to A. Bevan at the Western Australian Museum for providing the Wodgina rutile for characterisation as a standard. This work was financially supported by Australian Research Council grant DP0556700 and the Research School of Earth Sciences. T. Ewing was supported by APA, ANU and Jaeger scholarships at RSES, and was supported by the University of Lausanne during the preparation of this manuscript. M. Beltrando gratefully acknowledges support by the Margin Modelling Phase 3 partners (BP, Conoco Phillips, Statoil, Petrobras, Total, Shell, Hess, BHP-Billiton and BG). We thank Alberto Zanetti and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments that improved the manuscript, and Jochen Hoefs for editorial handling.

Supplementary material

410_2015_1135_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1247 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanya A. Ewing
    • 1
    • 2
  • Daniela Rubatto
    • 1
  • Marco Beltrando
    • 3
  • Jörg Hermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità di TorinoTurinItaly

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