Age and composition of meta-ophiolite from the Rhodope Middle Allochthon (Satovcha, Bulgaria): A test for the maximum-allochthony hypothesis of the Hellenides



The metamorphosed thrust stack of the Rhodopes comprises a level with ophiolites (Middle Allochthon) underlain and overlain by continent-derived allochthons. The Upper Allochthon represents the European margin, but the origin of the Lower Allochthon remains controversial, with suggestions that it may be derived from an inferred microcontinent (Drama) or from the margin of Adria. Trace element compositions and Sr and Nd isotope ratios of metagabbroic amphibolites and enclosed meta-plagiogranites from the Satovcha Ophiolite, Middle Allochthon, show that they are cogenetic and represent suprasubduction zone ophiolites. U-Pb dating using laser ablation sector field inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry of zircons from two meta-plagiogranites and a metagabbro yielded identical Jurassic ages (160 ± 1 Ma, 160.6 ± 1.8 Ma, and 160 ± 1 Ma, respectively), similar to ophiolites in the eastern Vardar Zone bordering the Rhodopes to the SW. The trace element patterns also closely resemble those of the Vardar ophiolites. The association with Late Jurassic arc-type granitoids is another feature that applies both to eastern Vardar and Satovcha. This strongly suggests that the Middle Allochthon comprises the metamorphosed northeastward continuation of the Vardar Zone. The Jurassic age of the Satovcha Ophiolite contradicts the hypothesis of Early Jurassic suturing between Europe (Upper Allochthon) and the assumed Drama microcontinent (Lower Allochthon) but is in line with the “maximum allochthony hypothesis,” i.e., the assumption that the Lower Allochthon represents Adria and that the “root” of the Vardar-derived thrust sheets is at the NE boundary of the Rhodopes.