Abstract

A deformed accretionary prism and a flanking forearc basin extending from Birjand southeast to Zahedan, Iran, record the destruction of an arm of the Neo-Tethys during Senonian-Paleocene time and consequent collision of the Afghan and Lut eratonic blocks.

The accretionary prism at 32 °N is subdivided into two northwest-trending en echelon belts termed the “Ratuk” and “Neh” complexes, respectively. On the east, the Ratuk complex is characterized by ophiolitic block-against-block or serpentinite-matrix mélange and large fault slivers of epidote blueschist tectonite. The Ratuk complex was built prior to Maastrichtian time. The Neh complex to the southwest is Senonian to Eocene in age and includes, in addition to ophiolitic mélange, weakly metamorphosed marine sedimentary rock exposed in extensive belts bounded by steeply dipping faults.

The Sefidabeh forearc basin deposits onlap both the Neh and Ratuk complexes and the southwest margin of the Afghan block. They make up as much as 8 km of Cenomanian to Eocene terrigenous elastics and carbonates that display a complex but coherent stratigraphy. Facies relations demonstrate the uplift and subaerial exposure of the Ratuk structural high, followed by its subsidence contemporaneous with construction of the Neh complex and calc-alkalic volcanism on the northeast (inner) side of the basin.

The accretionary prism-forearc basin polarity, the structural vergence and general younging of the accretionary prism to the southwest, as well as the position of the (relatively) high P T metamorphic rock on the inner side of the prism are consistent with northeast-dipping subduction. Widespread emergence of the entire belt and the initiation of folding of the Sefidabeh basin deposits during middle Eocene are interpreted to be consequences of the entry of the Lut block into the subduction zone. Continued convergence of the continental blocks is expressed by a regional system of folds and transcurrent faults corresponding to east-northeast compression. These structures are buried by mildly deformed Miocene volcanic rocks. Extensive post-Miocene right-slip faulting is inferred to be an effect of Miocene “terminal” collision of Arabia and Eurasia.

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