International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 8, pp 2873–2893 | Cite as

U–Pb geochronology of the Sondalo gabbroic complex (Central Alps) and its position within the Permian post-Variscan extension

  • B. Petri
  • G. Mohn
  • E. Skrzypek
  • T. Mateeva
  • F. Galster
  • G. Manatschal
Original Paper


The end of an orogenic cycle is commonly associated with a general extensional regime, widespread magmatism and complex metamorphic overprints. The Austroalpine domain in SE Switzerland and N Italy preserves a polyphase tectonic history spanning the Carboniferous Variscan orogeny, the Late Carboniferous–Early Permian post-Variscan extension and the Jurassic rifting. In this study, the late- and post-Variscan evolution of the Austroalpine domain is explored by constraining the timing of intrusion of the Sondalo gabbroic complex in the Campo unit. U–Pb zircon dating on magmatic and metamorphic rocks and trace element geochemistry in zircon are performed using laser ablation coupled with mass spectrometry. The ages of both magmatic and metamorphic rocks range between 289 ± 4 and 285 ± 6 Ma. Trace elements in zircon from magmatic rocks indicate that zircon grew in two different chemical systems: an initial one devoid of garnet and with already crystallized plagioclase, and a second one with an increasing modal amount of garnet and lacking (initial) plagioclase. The second system probably reflects mixing of the initial magma with melt derived from the surrounding partially molten metapelites. New results, existing age data and P-T estimates allow to describe the late- to post-Variscan evolution of the Austroalpine domain. These data are compared and integrated in the framework of the Permian geodynamic setting in Western Europe. We present new arguments to consider the “Permian event” in Europe as a process which was temporally distinct from the collapse of the Variscan orogen. Late-Variscan re-equilibration of the crustal thickness occurred between 310 and 290 Ma (i.e. during the collapse phase). Permian mafic magmas emplaced from 290 to 270 Ma formed either during or even after the latest stages of the Variscan collapse.


U–Pb dating Alps Austroalpine nappes Gabbro Permian 



B. Petri was supported by the University of Strasbourg. Fieldwork and analysis were financed by an ExxonMobil research grant to G. Manatschal. R. van Elsas and A. Aubert are thanked for the help with mineral separation, and P. Vonlanthen and G. Morvan for the BSE and CL imaging, A. Ulianov for the help with the LA-ICP-MS. A. Bouzeghaia is warmly thanked for her help with figures. O. Müntener is thanked for discussions. All authors acknowledge careful reviews from N. Froitzheim and A. Galli and W.-C. Dullo for editorial handling.

Compliance with ethical standards


Field work and analyses have been financed by an ExxonMobil research grant to G. Manatschal.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

531_2017_1465_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (559 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 558 KB)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre, Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg-CNRS UMR7516, Université de StrasbourgStrasbourg CedexFrance
  2. 2.Département Géosciences et EnvironnementUniversité de Cergy-PontoiseCergy-Pontoise CedexFrance
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Graduate School of ScienceKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan
  4. 4.Department of Earth and Ocean SciencesUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  5. 5.Institute of Earth SciencesUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  6. 6.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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