International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 107, Issue 4, pp 1231–1266 | Cite as

Failed Silurian continental rifting at the NW margin of Gondwana: evidence from basaltic volcanism of the Prague Basin (Teplá–Barrandian Unit, Bohemian Massif)

  • Zuzana TasáryováEmail author
  • Vojtěch Janoušek
  • Jiří Frýda
Original Paper


The Silurian volcanic rocks of the Prague Basin represent within-plate, transitional alkali to tholeiitic basalts, which erupted in a continental rift setting through the thick Cadomian crust of the Teplá–Barrandian Unit (Bohemian Massif). Despite the variable, often intense alteration resulting in post-magmatic replacement of the basalt mass due to carbonatization, the geochemical signatures of Silurian basalts are still sufficiently preserved to constrain primary magmatic processes and geotectonic setting. The studied interval of Silurian volcanic activity ranges from Wenlock (Homerian, ~431 Ma) to late Ludlow (Gorstian, ~425 Ma) with a distinct peak at the Wenlock/Ludlow boundary (~428 Ma). Trace-element characteristics unambiguously indicate partial melting of a garnet peridotite mantle source. Wenlock basalts are similar to alkaline OIB with depleted radiogenic Nd signature compared to Ludlow basalts, which are rather tholeiitic, EMORB-like with enriched radiogenic Nd signature. The correlation of petrogenetically significant trace-element ratios with Nd isotopic compositions points to a mixing of partial melts of an isotopically heterogeneous, possibly two-component mantle source during the Wenlock–Ludlow melting. Lava eruptions were accompanied by intrusions of doleritic basalt and meimechite sills. The latter represent olivine-rich cumulates of basaltic magmas of probably predominantly Ludlow age. Meimechites with dolerites and, to a lesser extent, some lavas were subject to alteration due to wall-rock–fluid interaction. The trigger for the Wenlock-to-Ludlow (431–425 Ma) extension and related volcanism in the Prague Basin is related to far-field forces, namely slab-pull regime due to progressive closure of the Iapetus Ocean. The main stage of the Baltica–Laurentia collision then caused the Prague Basin rift failure at ca. 425 Ma that has never reached an oceanic stage.


Bohemian Massif Teplá–Barrandian Unit Prague Basin Silurian volcanic rocks Geochemistry Nd isotopes Gondwana Continental rift 



We gratefully acknowledge Petr Štorch and Štěpán Manda for showing us some of the outcrops and providing biostratigraphic control on underlying and overlying strata. We also thank Milan Fišera for petrographic consultations on thin sections, Jitka Míková and Lenka Vondrovicová for Nd isotope sample decompositions, Vojtěch Erban and Jakub Trubač for Nd isotope analyses and help in field, Jana Danišová for sample pulverization in agate mill, and Věra Zoulková and Rosina Kašičková for whole-rock analyses. The senior author thanks Marek Awdankiewicz and Axel Renno for helpful reviews of her dissertation thesis (Silurian and Devonian volcanism in the Prague Basin). Listed analytical works were financed by the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (GACR) through Grant no. P210/10/2351 (to Petr Pruner). Time capacity for manuscript completion was enabled by the Czech Geological Survey through Project no. 339900 and the Czech Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports project LK 11202 (ROPAKO to K. Schulmann). Finally, we gratefully acknowledge anonymous reviewers for their very constructive reviews, which helped to improve the original manuscript significantly.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Czech Geological SurveyPrague 1Czech Republic

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