Document Type

Article

Abstract

Geophysical (URSEIS experiment) and geological data from the Southern Uralides of central Russia provide the basis for a geodynamic model involving eclogitization of the Uralian crustal root in Late Triassic to Early Jurassic time as a mechanism for stabilization and preservation of this Paleozoic orogen. The crustal structure of the orogen implies eastward subduction of the East European continental crust, and balanced restoration implies a significant volume of crust (comprised of ~70% European crust, and ~30% accreted terranes) was carried to sub-Moho depths of up to 70 km. The lack of a clearly defined near-vertical incidence reflection Moho corroborated by coincident wide-angle reflection data suggest that the Moho is a sub-horizontal gradational boundary at ~50--53 km depth beneath the axis of the Southern Uralides. Previous modeling of a subdued (-50 mgal) regional Bouguer gravity minimum across the orogen suggests a subsurface load that is interpreted here as substantiation for a metamorphic phasechange of the lower crust to mantle-like eclogite facies rocks. Timing of eclogitization appears to be constrained by (1) superposition of a nearly flat Moho across the Paleozoic Uralian orogenic fabric, and (2) zircon and apatite fission-track minimum ages of 180--200 Ma, marking an upper age limit to cooling of rocks exposed at the surface, and, implicitly, to significant uplift and erosion in the Southern Uralides. The proposed eclogitization of the Southern Uralian root zone may have led to an isostatically balanced system with subdued topography, and thereby presumably served to stabilize and preserve the orogenic structure.

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