Westward younging disposition of Philippine ophiolites and its implication for arc evolution



Abstract  The different ophiolite complexes in the Philippine island arc system define a progressive younging direction westward. This resulted from the clockwise rotation of the Philippine island arc system during its north-westward translation in the Eocene resulting in its western boundary colliding with the Sundaland–Eurasian margin. As a consequence of this interaction, ophiolite complexes and mélanges accreted into the Philippine island arc system along its western side. A new ophiolite zonation with four belts is proposed that takes into consideration the observed spatial and temporal relationships of the exposed oceanic lithosphere slices. With progressive younging from east to west, Belt 1 corresponds to Late Cretaceous complete ophiolite complexes with associated metamorphic soles along the eastern Philippines, whereas Belt 2 includes Early to Late Cretaceous dismembered ultramafic-mafic complexes with mélanges exposed mainly west of eastern Philippines. Belt 3 is defined by Cretaceous through Eocene to Oligocene ophiolite complexes emplaced along the collision zone between the Philippine Mobile Belt and the Sundaland–Eurasian margin. Belt 4 corresponds to the ophiolite complexes emplaced along continental margins as exposed in the Palawan and Zamboanga–Sulu areas. This proposed zonation hints that the whole Philippine Mobile Belt, except for the strike-slip fault bounded Eocene Zambales ophiolite complex in Luzon, is underlain by Cretaceous proto-Philippine Sea Plate fragments. This is contrary to the previous models that consider only the eastern margin of the Philippines to contain proto-Philippine Sea Plate materials.