Ophiolite derived material as parent rocks for Late Jurassic bauxite: evidence for Tithonian unroofing in the Northern Calcareous Alps (Eastern Alps, Austria)

Timotheus Steiner, Hans-Jürgen Gawlick, Frank Melcher, Felix Schlagintweit

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In shallow-water limestones of the Plassen Formation in the Tirolic nappe of the Northern Calcareous Alps, bauxite was formed on karstified and tilted platform margin grainstones to boundstones around the ?Kimmeridgian/Tithonian boundary, or in the Early Tithonian as proven by Protopeneroplis striata Weynschenk, Labyrinthina mirabilis Weynschenk, and Salpingoporella pygmaea Gümbel. The platform established on top of the obducted ophiolite nappe stack. The onset of unroofing at the Kimmeridgian/Tithonian boundary exposed ophiolites to weathering, forming laterites, and bauxites. The weathered ophiolitic material was shed on the tilted, emerged, and karstified platform, where the bauxite accumulated. Continued subsidence led to flooding, and a Tithonian transgressive carbonate sequence sealed the bauxites. XRD analysis of the bauxite yields a composition of mainly boehmite with hematite and some berthierine, kaolinite, and chromite. SEM analysis verified magnetite, hematite, rutile, chromite, zircon, ferropseudobrookite, ilmenite, monazite, xenotime, and garnet distributed in pisoids and within the matrix. The pisoids reach a millimeter in size and partly show cores of older, larger pisoids. The composition of the chromites indicates an ophiolitic origin. Geochemical examination using major- and trace elements points to a mafic andesitic to basaltic parent material contaminated with highly fractionated rocks from an island arc. Formation of Early Tithonian bauxites in shallow-water limestones confirms Middle to Early Late Jurassic ophiolite obduction. This was followed by uplift and unroofing of the orogen from the Kimmeridgian/Tithonian boundary onwards after a period of relative tectonic quiescence with an onset of carbonate platforms during the Kimmeridgian on top of the nappe stack and the obducted Neo-Tethys ophiolites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1847-1862
Number of pages16
JournalInternational journal of earth sciences : Geologische Rundschau : GR ; Geologische Rundschau
Issue number110
Early online date21 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021

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