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International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 96, Issue 6, pp 1059–1078 | Cite as

The architecture of an incipient oceanic basin: a tentative reconstruction of the Jurassic Liguria-Piemonte basin along the Northern Apennines–Alpine Corsica transect

  • Michele MarroniEmail author
  • Luca Pandolfi
Original Paper

Abstract

In this paper, a scenario for the early evolution of the Jurassic oceanic Liguria-Piemonte basin is sketched. For this purpose, four selected examples of ophiolite sequences from the Northern Apennines and Corsica are described and analyzed. In the External Ligurian units (Northern Apennines), the ocean–continent transition of the Adria plate was characterized by a basement made up of subcontinental mantle and lower continental crust, covered by extensional allochthons of upper crust. Both, the basement rocks and the extensional allochthons are cut by basaltic dikes and covered by basalts and pelagic deposits. The conjugate ocean–continent transition of the Corsica margin, represented by the Balagne nappe (Corsica), was composed of mantle peridotites and gabbros covered by basaltic flows and minor breccias, that in addition include continent-derived clasts. By contrast, the innermost (i.e., closest to the ocean) preserved area observed in the Internal Ligurian (Northern Apennines) and Inzecca (Corsica) units consists of former morphological highs of mantle peridotites and gabbros, bordered by small basins where the basement is covered by a volcano-sedimentary complex, characterized by ophiolitic breccias and cherts interlayered with basaltic flows. The overall picture resulting from our reconstructions suggests an asymmetric architecture for the Liguria-Piemonte basin with a central area bounded by two different transition zones toward the continental margins. This architecture can be interpreted as the result of a rifting process whose development includes a final stage characterized by passive, asymmetric extension of the lithosphere along an east-dipping detachment fault system.

Keywords

Ophiolites Ocean–continent transition Liguria-Piemonte basin Corsica Northern Apennines 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Our paper is dedicated to Prof. Piero Elter, who introduced us to the geology of the Apennines and Corsica. It has been presented in the Atelier “Domaine Apulien-Corse–Enregistrement tectono-sédimentaire du système ibéro-apulo-européen au Crétacé de la Baie de Biscaye aux Alpes” held in September 2004 during the “Réunion de les Sciences de la Terre” organized by G. Manatschal and C. Hibsch. The authors are greatly indebted to Giancarlo Molli for stimulating discussions. The paper greatly benefited from critical reviews by Daniel Bernoulli, Gianreto Manatschal and Othmar Müntener, that are gratefully acknowledged. Our research was supported by M.I.U.R (Project COFIN) by C.N.R (Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse).

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© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità di Pisa and Istituto di Geoscienze e Georisorse, CNRPisaItaly

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