Quaternary Collision-Zone Magmatism of the Greater Caucasus

Bewick, Sam; Parkinson, Ian J; Harris, Nigel; Adamia, Shota; Sadradze, Nino; Allen, Mark B and Hammond, Sam (2022). Quaternary Collision-Zone Magmatism of the Greater Caucasus. Journal of Petrology, 63(5), article no. egac037.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/petrology/egac037


The Greater Caucasus mountains (Cavcasioni) mark the northern margin of the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone. Magmatism in the central part of the Greater Caucasus began in the Pleistocene, up to ~25 Myr after initial collision. This paper presents bulk-rock and Sr-Nd-Pb isotope geochemistry from 39 Quaternary volcanic rock samples (<450 Ka) recovered from the Mt. Kazbek (Kasbegui) region of the Greater Caucasus, Georgia, to assess the sources and magmatic evolution of these lavas and the possible triggers for melting in the context of their regional tectonics. Compositions are dominantly calc-alkaline basaltic-andesite to dacite (57-67 wt % SiO2). Although the lavas were erupted through thick continental crust, there is little evidence for extensive modification by crustal contamination. Trace element and isotopic systematics indicate that the lavas have supra-subduction zone signatures, most likely reflecting derivation from a lithospheric source that had been modified by melts and/or fluids from material subducted before and during the collisional event. Mass-balance modelling of the Sr-Nd isotope data indicates that the lavas require significant input from a subducted slab, with deep-sourced fluids fluxing the slab into the source region. In contrast with published data from Lesser Caucasus magmatism, data from the Mt. Kazbek region suggest that a compositionally distinct sediment source resides beneath the Greater Caucasus, producing characteristic trace element and Pb isotopic signatures. Two distinct compositional groups and therefore primary liquids can be discerned from the various volcanic centres, both derived from light rare-earth element enriched sources, but with distinct differences in Th/Yb and Dy/Yb ratios and Pb isotopes. Rare-earth element modelling of the lava sources is consistent with 3-4% melting starting in the garnet-peridotite and continuing into the spinel facies or, potentially, sited in the garnet-spinel transition zone. Small-scale convection related to mantle upwelling provides a plausible mechanism for Greater Caucasus magmatism and explains the random aspect to the distribution of magmatism across the Arabia-Eurasia collision zone.

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