The Shanderman eclogites: a Late Carboniferous high-pressure event in the NW Talesh Mountains (NW Iran)

<p>The Shanderman Metamorphic Complex, exposed along the Caspian foothills of the Talesh Mountain, western Alborz, Iran, has always been interpreted as an ophiolitic fragment of the Palaeotethys Ocean. According to our new data, this unit consists of metamorphic rocks mainly represented by garnet–staurolite micaschists with large bodies of metabasites containing well-preserved eclogitic-phase assemblages. The Shanderman Complex (SC) was later intruded at middle crustal levels by intermediate–basic intrusive bodies. New Ar/Ar ages of paragonitic white micas in equilibrium with the high-pressure assemblages have given a Late Carboniferous age (315±9 Ma). Our new data suggest that the SC was equilibrated in high-pressure conditions during an orogenic event that predates the Eo-Cimmerian orogeny by more than 100 Ma and that may be tentatively ascribed to the Variscan orogeny <em>sensu latu</em>. We suggest that the Shanderman Complex represents a fragment of the Upper Palaeozoic European continental crust. The occurrence of eclogites in these regions can be explained by two different hypotheses: (1) the SC high-pressure rocks can be related to the accretion of Gondwana-related Transcauscasian–Moesian microplate to the southern margin of Eurasia; or (2) the SC eclogites can represent a fragment of the Late Palaeozoic ‘Variscan belt’ <em>sensu latu</em> of central Europe, which has been translated eastwards during Permian along a dextral megashear zone taking from a Pangea-B to a Pangea-A plate configuration. This metamorphic unit was stacked southwards on the northern edge of the Iran Plate during the Eo-Cimmerian events occurring at the end of the Triassic. The eclogite-bearing basement of the SC was finally exhumed at the end of the Eo-Cimmerian orogeny, as suggested by the composition of the basal layers of the Shemshak Group dated here Middle Jurassic, that cover the crystalline rocks of the SC along a regional non-conformity. The SC was probably displaced further southwards during the Mesozoic opening of the South Caspian Basin and the Tertiary thrust stacking and dextral shearing accompanying the formation of the Alborz intracontinental belt. </p>