Tavşanlı Zone field trip, part 3

Picking up where we left off last time, we were in some partly-serpentenized peridotite, part of the Burham Ophiolite in Turkey’s Tavşanlı Zone, an ancient tectonic suture.

Our next stop on the field trip allowed us to visit some diabase dikes:


Here’s a close-up of the right contact of the dike with the host peridotite:


The field notebook’s long edge is ~18 cm. And here it is again, annotated:


Near the village of Oranheli, we stopped to examine a jadeite meta-granitoid, a rock only a metamorphic petrologist could love. There were, however, a lot of metamorphic petrologists on the trip, and they were very keen on checking it out. This was the first of many occasions when random Turkish citizens would stroll up to our odd group to find out just what the hell we were doing:


Further along, we saw a meta-basite (meta-basalt) within the meta-granitoid, and there I got a refreshing whiff of structure. Here’s a random isoclinal fold of a meta-granitoid dike cross-cutting the meta-basite, with a Turkish 1-lira coin (about the same size as a U.S. quarter) for scale:


Next up were some very cool rocks: marbles with extremely elongated calcite crystals.


These needle-like crystals are interpreted as being pseudomorphs of aragonite, the form of CaCO3 which is stable at high pressures and low temperatures.


A bit further on, we return to metamorphosed shale and graywacke (now schist and “grayfels”), sheared out and pervasively deformed at blueschist conditions. I took a few photos of charismatic folds in the unit:


Annotated, roughly showing the trace of foliation:


Sandy layer folded over into a recumbent position, set in a sheared mass of meta-shale:


Thicker sandy layer, in a recumbent isoclinal fold (white pen, 14 cm long, for scale):


Zooming in on the above photo, to show the lovely, smaller wavelength parasitic folds which decorate the snout of the big fold:


Extensional fractures along an isoclinally-folded, recumbent sandy layer:


Small S-folds in the sheared shale (just above hammer):


Coming down onto this roadside outcrop of sheared shale and graywacke were cobbles and boulders of float from somewhere up above. They were of a quartz-pebble conglomerate that showed a stretching lineation. Check out these two faces of typical samples:



Now, here they are again, with the X, Y, and Z axes of the strain ellipsoid (longest, intermediate, and shortest, respectively) labeled for your benefit.



This conglomerate has been sheared into a lovely L-S tectonite, with X>Y~Z. In other words, it’s mostly lineated, with only a weakly-defined foliation, indicating the stress field was mostly constrictional. (I collected a muddy sample of this stretched-pebble meta-conglomerate, and when I washed it off in the hotel shower the next morning, I was delighted what a cool sample I had selected. It has some awesome structural features; I’ll show it to you some other time…)

Our final stop of Day 1 of the trip was this spectacular overview of the Kocasu Gorge, a canyon which cuts across the structural trend of the area at approximately a right angle. (The canyon cuts north-south; the strike of the folded & thrusted rock units runs approximately east-west.)


As the sun set, Aral showed us where we were, and the overall synclinal structure of the area.


I recorded it in my field notebook like this:


With this context established, we loaded back on the bus and drove for a couple of hours to get to a town with a decent hotel. We dined and slept, and the next morning got up ready for more suture-zone rocks.

Tavşanlı Zone field trip, part 1

Before the Tectonic Crossroads conference two weeks ago, I had the good fortune to participate in a Istanbul-to-Ankara geology field examining the Tavşanlı Zone, a tectonic suture zone where a portion of the Tethys Ocean basin closed. This paleo-convergent boundary is marked by a suite of interesting rocks, including blueschists, ophiolites, and eclogites. I’d like to share with you some of the things I saw along the trip.

This is one of the trip leaders, Aral Okay (pronounced “Oh-kai,” okay?), discussing the general geology of the area at our first stop. (The other trip leader was Donna Whitney.)


I think in general, you can make out the east-west trend of the rock units on Aral’s map (where they aren’t obscured by alluvium). This reflects the approximate north-south convergence of the Tethys closure in Turkey. To visualize this, I’d like to call your attention to a paleogeographic interpretation of the Tethys Ocean from Ron Blakey, the talented mapmaker from Northern Arizona University:


See all those colliding east-west-oriented crustal fragments in the northwestern Tethys? Those are the pieces that will comprise future Turkey. As you can imagine, rocks caught up in these tectonic collisions got both deformed and metamorphosed. Some of them were even subducted to ~80 km depth, and then brought back up to the surface! At our first stop, we saw some blueschist-grade rocks that had a phyllitic texture. Here’s two of them:


As usual, my eye was drawn towards the structures visible in these rocks. Here are a couple of nice little folds:



(The Turkish 1-lira coin is the same size as a U.S. quarter.)

I found this to be an interesting portion of the outcrop:


That’s green phyllite on the left, and blue phyllite on the right. Allow me to annotate it for you:


“Blueschist” and “greenschist” refer to two assemblages of minerals which supposedly represent different combinations of temperature and pressure. They are examples of metamorphic “facies,” as illustrated in this image:


Image redrawn and modified by me from Figure 3 of Bousquet, et al. (2008), which is itself modified from Oberhänsli, et al. (2004), and also from University of British Columbia (1997), which is modified from Yardley (1988).

Theoretically, blueschists and greenschists should be forming at different combinations of pressure and temperature. Blueschist forms at high pressures, but relatively low temperatures. But here we have an outcrop of blueschist that is right adjacent to a greenschist (medium temperature and pressure), with no faulting in between. It was suggested to me by a blueschist expert that this was likely a reflection in differences in the initial composition of the protoliths. I found this explanation less than completely satisfying, but there was no time to discuss, for we were being called back to the bus, already gunning its engine and ready to roll down the road.

At our second stop, we found some metamorphic rocks that showed clear textural evidence of having had pyroclastic protoliths:


There were lots of chunky bits in there.


So it wasn’t just pelitic (muddy) rocks that were getting metamorphosed in this Tethyan suture zone, but volcanic rocks too!

More later… when we move on to stop #3

Photos from Virginia Geological Field Conference

For the second year in a row, more exotic travel plans meant that I wasn’t able to attend the superb Virginia Geological Field Conference. I see that they have now posted some photos on the group’s Facebook page, so go check them out to see what we both missed last weekend. Here’s a taste:

Sheared meta-conglomerate:

Metamorphosed mantle (?) xenoliths:

Friday fold: Archean gneiss from Montana


Today I’m in the air, on my way back to Turkey for the Tectonic Crossroads conference being held in Ankara next week. Before the meeting, I’m joining a field trip to examine a subduction zone complex. Over three days, we will drive from Istanbul to Ankara by way of ophiolites and blueschists and other geologic wonders. I’m excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to post an update or two from Turkey, but I don’t know what my internet access will be there. I’ve also got a couple of short pieces in the pipeline to post automatically, so you won’t go into withdrawal while I am out of town.


* Get it, like it’s my second time sampling the flavors of Turkey? “Leftovers?” Like the day after Thanksgiving? …Funny, right? …Right?

Another metamorphosed graded bed

Over the summer, when my blogging access was limited to my iPhone, I uploaded a photo (taken with the iPhone) of a metamorphosed graded bed on the summit of Mount Washington, New Hampshire.

Here’s another one that I saw, further down on the mountain, on the Auto Road (famous for its iconic bumper sticker):

Lens cap for scale. …And here’s the obligatory annotated copy:

Both of these images are enlargeable by clicking through (twice).

I think today’s photos are of better quality than the iPhone photo. This is the coolest freakin’ thing ever. What you have here are alternating beds of quartzite and andalusite schist. The boundaries between the two rock units are alternately crisp and gradational. Interpretation? Once upon a time, you had a turbidite sequence where the bigger, heavier grains (quartz sand) settled out first, followed by progressively finer and finer mud. The base of the graded bed is a crisp transition from mud to sand, but then as you go up through the graded bed, it grades from sand into mud.

Later, these distinctive primary structures were metamorphosed during the late Devonian-aged east coast mountain building episode called the Acadian Orogeny. The high temperatures and pressures cooked the rock. The sandy part, dominated by quartz, didn’t really change mineralogy much under the metamorphic conditions. The muddy part, on the other hand, was chock full of clay minerals which are not in equilibrium under elevated temperatures and pressures, so they reacted chemically. Their elements reorganized into new minerals: big honkin’ crystals of the mineral andalusite. They might just as well have reorganized into sillimanite or kyanite if conditions were slightly different, but temperature dominated over pressure, so andalusite was the mineral form that was stable (at equilibrium) under those conditions.

As a result, the “mud” was now coarser grained than the “sand.” The overall sense of grading had been flipped by the metamorphosis, yet the overall crisp/gradual pattern was preserved. This, my friends, is exquisite.

Metamorphosed graded bed

This is the coolest thing I’ve seen this week: a graded bed metamorphosed via Acadian mountain building:

The graded bed starts at the Swiss army knife at left, where you see an abrupt transition between coarse grained metamorphic porphyroblasts (“pseudo-andalusites”) and finer grained quartzite. This was once a mud to sand transition when these were loose sediments in the Kronos Sea, but with elevated temperature and pressure, the clay minerals in the mud reacted to grow elegant porphyroblasts of andalusite and sillimanite. The sand was made of quartz: less reactive stuff, and all it did was fuse together when metamorphosed. I love this: the coarse to fine relationship in the original graded bed is flipped on it’s head by metamorphism. Follow the bed “up” (to the right), and you will see the quartzite grade into andalusite-dominated former mudstone. Pretty sweet, eh?

This example is from the summit area of Mount Washington, New Hampshire. More fun stuff when I get back to my home computer next Monday.


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