Remnants of a fossil continent–ocean transition similar to that of the modern non-volcanic continental margins are preserved in the Jurassic External Liguride units. They consist of fertile lherzolites of subcontinental origin, MOR-type basalts and rare gabbroic intrusives, together with continental crust bodies exhumed during the rifting phases preceding the oceanization. The gabbroic rocks include troctolites, (olivine) gabbros, Fe–Ti oxide-bearing gabbros and diorites. Trace element and Nd isotope compositions indicate that these rocks were derived from N-MORB melts variably evolved through fractional crystallisation. In the gabbroic rocks, hightemperature (∼900 °C) shearing along ductile shear zones is locally overprinted by amphibolite-facies recrystallization (T∼650 °C), which was most likely assisted by seawater-derived fluids. Basalts crop out as lava flows and as dykes crosscutting mantle lherzolites and gabbroic rocks. They display nearly flat REE patterns and high Y/Nb values (5–14), similar to modern N-MORB. Basalts are also characterised by weak Zr enrichment relative to neighbouring REE (Zr/Zr⁎=1.1–1.7) and high (Sm/Yb)DM ratios (1.5–1.8). Their Nd isotope compositions are close to typical depleted mantle (initial ɛNd=+7.6 to+9.4). The geochemical features of parental melts of basaltic and gabbroic rocks may be attributed to melting of a MORB-type asthenospheric source. Trace element modelling shows that low-degree (≤6%) fractional melting of a depleted spinel peridotite cannot account for the elevated Sm/Yb ratios of basalts. Lowdegree melting of a mixed source of spinel peridotite with small amounts of garnet pyroxenite has been proposed to explain the trace element signature of basalts.
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