The U2 group of plutonic rocks constituting the main exposed part of the Corsica-Sardinia batholith (CSB) was emplaced from 308 to 275 Ma (the early Visean U1 group of Mg-K intrusions is not considered here). Field evidence earlier established volcanic-plutonic relationships in the U2 group of calc-alkaline intrusions of the CSB, though detailed chronological data were still lacking.
Large outcrops of U2 volcanic formations are restricted to the less eroded zone north-west of the Porto-Ponte Leccia line in Corsica, but volcanic and volcano-sedimentary formations were widely eroded elsewhere since Permian times. They probably covered most of the batholith before the Miocene, as testified by the volcanic nature of the pebbles that form much of the Early Miocene conglomerates of eastern Corsica. U-Pb zircon dating (SHRIMP) was used for deciphering the chronology and duration of different volcanic pulses and for better estimating the time overlap between plutonic and volcanic rock emplacement in the CSB.
The obtained ages fit well with field data, showing that most of the U2 and U3 volcanic formations were emplaced within a brief time span of roughly 15 m.y., from 293 to 278 Ma, coeval with most U2 monzogranodiorites and leucomonzogranites (295–280 Ma), alkaline U3 complexes (about 288 Ma), and mafic-ultramafic tholeiitic complexes (295–275 Ma). The same chronological link between deep-seated magma chambers and eruptions was identified in the Pyrenees.
These results correlate with U-Pb zircon dating of HT-LP granulites from the Variscan deep crust exhumed along the “European” margin of the thinned Tethys margin in Corsica and Calabria. Here, the peak of the low-pressure/high-temperature metamorphism was dated at about 285–280 Ma. Our results throw light on the condition of magma production during the orogenic collapse in the southern Variscan realm. While juvenile tholeiitic basaltic magma was produced by the melting of spinel mantle lithosphere, all fertile protoliths melted in a brief period during the HT-LP peak in lower continental crust, leading to massive emplacement of large felsic U2 calc-alkaline and minor U3 A-type volcano-plutonic formations over about 15 Ma.