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Lustrino M., Cucciniello C., Melluso L., Tassinari C.C.G., dè Gennaro R., Serracino M. (2012)

Petrogenesis of Cenozoic volcanic rocks in the NW sector of the Gharyan volcanic field, Libya

Lithos, 155, 218-235



The north-western sector of the Gharyan volcanic field (northern Libya) consists of trachytic-phonolitic domes emplaced between ~41 and 38 Ma, and small-volume mafic alkaline volcanic centres (basanites, tephrites, alkali basalts, hawaiites and rare benmoreites) of Middle Miocene-Pliocene age (~12-2 Ma). Two types of trachytes and phonolites have been recognized on the basis of petrography, mineralogy and geochemistry. Type-1 trachytes and phonolites display a smooth spoon-shaped REE pattern without negative Europium anomalies. Type-2 trachytes and phonolites show a remarkable Eu negative anomaly, higher concentration in HFSE (Nb-Ta-Zr-Hf), REE and Ti than Type-1 rocks. The origin of Type-1 trachytes and phonolites is compatible with removal of clinopyroxene, plagioclase, alkali feldspar, amphibole, magnetite and titanite starting from benmoreitic magmas, found in the same outcrops. Type-2 trachytes and phonolites could be the result of extensive fractional crystallization starting from mafic alkaline magma, without removal of titanite. In primitive mantle-normalized diagrams, the mafic rocks (Mg# = 62-68, Cr up to 514 ppm, Ni up to 425 ppm) show peaks at Nb and Ta and troughs at K. These characteristics, coupled with low 87Sr/86Sr(i) (0.7033-0.7038) and positive eNd (from +4.2 to +5.3) features typical of the mafic anorogenic magmas of the northern African plate and of HIMU-OIB-like magma in general. The origin of the mafic rocks is compatible from a derivation from low degree partial melting (3-9%) shallow mantle sources in the spinel/garnet facies, placed just below the rigid plate in the uppermost low-velocity zone. The origin of the igneous activity is considered linked to passive lithospheric thinning related to the development of continental rifts like those of Sicily Channel (e.g., Pantelleria and Linosa) and Sardinia (e.g., Campidano Graben) in the Central-Western Mediterranean Sea.