International Journal of Earth Sciences

, Volume 106, Issue 7, pp 2279–2296 | Cite as

The north-subducting Rheic Ocean during the Devonian: consequences for the Rhenohercynian ore sites

  • Jürgen F. von Raumer
  • Heinz-Dieter Nesbor
  • Gérard M. Stampfli
Original Paper


Base metal mining in the Rhenohercynian Zone has a long history. Middle-Upper Devonian to Lower Carboniferous sediment-hosted massive sulfide deposits (SHMS), volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits (VHMS) and Lahn-Dill-type iron, and base metal ores occur at several sites in the Rhenohercynian Zone that stretches from the South Portuguese Zone, through the Lizard area, the Rhenish Massif and the Harz Mountain to the Moravo-Silesian Zone of SW Bohemia. During Devonian to Early Carboniferous times, the Rhenohercynian Zone is seen as an evolving rift system developed on subsiding shelf areas of the Old Red continent. A reappraisal of the geotectonic setting of these ore deposits is proposed. The Middle-Upper Devonian to Early Carboniferous time period was characterized by detrital sedimentation, continental intraplate and subduction-related volcanism. The large shelf of the Devonian Old Red continent was the place of thermal subsidence with contemporaneous mobilization of rising thermal fluids along activated Early Devonian growth faults. Hydrothermal brines equilibrated with the basement and overlying Middle-Upper Devonian detrital deposits forming the SHMS deposits in the southern part of the Pyrite Belt, in the Rhenish Massif and in the Harz areas. Volcanic-hosted massive sulfide deposits (VHMS) formed in the more eastern localities of the Rhenohercynian domain. In contrast, since the Tournaisian period of ore formation, dominant pull-apart triggered magmatic emplacement of acidic rocks, and their metasomatic replacement in the apical zones of felsic domes and sediments in the northern part of the Iberian Pyrite belt, thus changing the general conditions of ore precipitation. This two-step evolution is thought to be controlled by syn- to post-tectonic phases in the Variscan framework, specifically by the transition of geotectonic setting dominated by crustal extension to a one characterized by the subduction of the supposed northern slab of the Rheic Ocean preceding the general Late Variscan crustal shortening and oroclinal bending.


Base metal and iron ores Rhenohercynian rift Rheic Ocean Subduction-related Devonian 



We appreciated the thoughtful suggestions and critical remarks from Lluis Fonboté (Geneva) and an unnamed reviewer, and we enjoyed the discussions with J Balintoni (Cluj), F Finger (Salzburg), H Flick (Heidelberg), D Large (Braunschweig), F Neubauer (Salzburg), A Schaefer (Bonn), B Schulz (Freiberg) and F Tornos (Madrid). G. Wörner (Göttingen) is thanked for performance of the geochemical analyses. We appreciated the understanding help from W C Dullo (Editor-in-Chief).

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 622 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dépt. de GéosciencesUniversitéFribourgSwitzerland
  2. 2.Hessisches Landesamt für Naturschutz Organization, Umwelt und Geologie (HLNUG)WiesbadenGermany
  3. 3.Earth Sciences Institute (ISTE) GeopolisUNILLausanneSwitzerland

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