An Upper Crustal Ophiolite Remnant within the Feather River Ultramafic Belt, California: Tectonomagmatic Origins and Implications for Its Evolution

  • Jun LuoEmail author
  • John Wakabayashi
  • Zhiliang He
  • Jinbiao Yun
  • Quanyou Liu
  • Tianyi Li
  • Haiming Song
  • Wenjiao Xiao


The 150-km-long Feather River ultramafic belt (FRB) of the northern Sierra Nevada, California, consists of serpentinized ultramafic rocks, gabbroic rocks, with lesser amounts of amphibolitic rocks. The gabbroic rocks contain metagabbro and dikes within it. Based on the electron microprobe analyses, the metagabbro consists of typical igneous composition for clinopyroxene and early hornblende, indicating that they bear low grade metamorphism. The gabbroic rocks show Nb and Ta depletion in primitive-mantle normalized plots that is similar to typical island arc rocks. We present that the metagabbro within the ultramafic rocks is forming in the suprasubduction zone setting. Tectonic models are presented for the metagabbro and amphibolitic rocks in FRB. The low P burial metamorphism of the upper plate metagabbro and the high grade amphibolitic rocks are typical of relationships of upper plate ophiolites to metamorphic soles. The amphibolitic rocks record as metamorphic sole forming during subduction initiation beneath the ultramafic rocks and metagabbro. The unusual and protracted tectonic history of the FRB is similar to other ophiolite belts of the Cordillera of California but differs in the lack of crustal rocks.

Key words

high-grade rocks metamorphic sole ophiolite suture zone 


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We appreciate Brian Windley who has taught us to analyze ophiolitic complexes in the field. We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions. This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 40739904, 41072093, and 41302117) and SINOPEC. The final publication is available at Springer via

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Copyright information

© China University of Geosciences and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Shale Oil and Gas Enrichment Mechanisms and Effective DevelopmentPetroleum Exploration and Production Research Institute of SINOPECBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesCalifornia State UniversityFresnoUSA
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and GeophysicsChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  4. 4.Xinjiang Research Center for Mineral Resources, Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and GeographyChinese Academy of SciencesUrumqiChina

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