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The “petrological Moho” recognized in the Jurassic Vourinos Ophiolite (northern Greece) was the first “crust-mantle” boundary described within a fossil oceanic lithosphere. Early observations suggested a Cenozoic brittle-field block rotation of the petrological Moho transition area resulting in an oblique clockwise rotation of ~100°, but a brittle fault system responsible for the mechanism of this rotation was never located. A modern interpretation of research dating from the 1960s to the present documents the occurrence of a diverse set of ductile structures overprinting this primary intra-oceanic feature.

The following observations from our original “Moho” studies in the Vourinos complex are still pertinent: the contact between the upper mantle units and the magmatic crustal sequence is in situ and intrusional in nature; high-temperature intragranular ductile deformation (mantle creep at temperatures from around 1200 °C down to ~900 °C) fabrics terminate at the crust-mantle boundary; the overlying oceanic crustal rocks display geochemical fractionation patterns analogous to crustal rocks in the in situ oceanic lithosphere. Since these original studies, however, understanding the mechanisms of ductile deformation and ridge crest processes have advanced, and hence we can now interpret the older data and recent observations in a new paradigm of oceanic lithosphere formation.

Our major interpretational breakthrough includes the following phenomena: lower temperature, intergranular deformation of ~900 °C to 700 °C extends from the upper mantle tectonites up into the lower crustal cumulate section; the origin of mineral lineations within adcumulate crustal rocks as remnants of ductile deformation during early phases of magmatic crystallization; syn-magmatic folding and rotation of the cumulate section; the tectonic significance of flaser gabbro and late gabbroic intrusions in the crustal sequence; and the relevance and significance of a cumulate troctolite unit within the crustal sequence. These observations collectively point to an important process of a ductile-field, syn-magmatic rotation of the Moho transition area. The most plausible mechanism explaining such a rotation is proto-transform faulting deformation near the ridge crest. By recognizing and distinguishing structures that resulted from such initial rotational deformation in the upper mantle peridotites of ophiolites, future field-based structural, petrographic, and petrological studies can better document the mode of the initiation of oceanic transform faults.

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