Abstract

Ophiolites are on-land remnants of oceanic lithosphere, and most of the more extensive ophiolites apparently formed above a subduction zone, a tectonic setting known as a suprasubduction-zone setting. Thin sheets of high-grade metamorphic rocks, known as metamorphic soles, crop out structurally beneath many suprasubduction-zone ophiolites. Such rocks may have formed during the inception of subduction beneath young and hot oceanic lithosphere. Disagreement exists as to whether suprasubduction-zone ophiolites are emplaced over the same subduction zone over which they once formed or over a later one. High-grade metamorphic rocks (blocks-in-mélange and coherent sheets) from the Franciscan Complex may represent a metamorphic sole beneath the suprasubduction-zone Coast Range ophiolite. Trace-element and isotopic data indicate that the Franciscan high-grade metamorphic rocks formed in a suprasubduction-zone environment, requiring the existence of a pre-Franciscan subduction zone, whereas later-subducted, lower-grade oceanic rocks are of mid-ocean-ridge or oceanic-island basalt affinities. The Coast Range ophiolite and Franciscan high-grade rock protoliths formed over a pre-Franciscan subduction zone that may have dipped westward. The high-grade Franciscan rocks were metamorphosed at the inception of east-dipping subduction beneath the Coast Range ophiolite, and the ophiolite was subsequently emplaced over this later subduction zone. Suprasubduction-zone protolith signatures have been obtained for other metamorphic soles beneath suprasubduction-zone ophiolites, suggesting that our proposed model of suprasubduction-zone ophiolite generation over one subduction zone and emplacement over a second one may be globally applicable. Regional geology suggests that this dual subduction-zone model may also apply to suprasubduction-zone ophiolites with mid-ocean-ridge and/or oceanic-island basalt soles.

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