The Moroccan Anti-Atlas ophiolites: Timing and melting processes in an intra-oceanic arc-back-arc environment

F. Hodel, A. Triantafyllou, J. Berger, M. Macouin, J. M. Baele, N. Mattielli, C. Monnier, R. I.F. Trindade, M. N. Ducea, A. Chatir, N. Ennih, J. Langlade, M. Poujol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The Moroccan Anti-Atlas orogenic belt encloses several Precambrian inliers comprising two major Neoproterozoic ophiolitic complexes: the Sirwa and Bou Azzer ophiolites. These ophiolites expose crustal and mantle units, thrusting over fragments of a long-lived intra-oceanic arc system. We present a detailed geochronological and petro-geochemical study of three mafic/ultramafic units of these two ophiolites: the Khzama sequence (Sirwa ophiolite) and the Northern and Southern Aït Ahmane sequences (Bou Azzer ophiolite). The crystallization of layered metagabbros from the Bou Azzer ophiolite (North Aït Ahmane sequence) has been dated here at 759 ± 2 Ma (U-Pb on zircons). This new age for the Bou Azzer ophiolite is similar to the formation of the Sirwa ophiolite (762 Ma) and suggests that both units formed during the same spreading event. Metabasalts of the three units show tholeiitic signature but with variable subduction-related imprints marked by LILE enrichments, HFSE depletions and variable Ti contents, similar to modern back-arc basin basalts (BABB). Their back-arc origin is also supported by the geochemical signature of ultramafic units showing very low contents in major and trace incompatible elements (Al2O3: 0.12–1.53 wt%, Ti: 3.5–64.2 ppm and Nb: 0.004–0.10 ppm), attesting of a highly refractory protolith. This is in agreement with the high Cr# (0.44–0.81) and low to intermediate Mg# (0.25–0.73) of their constitutive Cr-spinels. Dynamic melting models suggest that these serpentinites experienced intense and polyphased hydrous melting events, strongly influenced by supra-subduction zone SSZ-fluid influx and subduction-related melt percolation. Being particularly affected by these SSZ-melt/rock interactions and closer to arc units to the south, the Sirwa ophiolite and the South Aït Ahmane unit of the Bou Azzer ophiolite likely represent an early stage of the arc-back-arc system, which has been more influenced by the magmatic products of the arc activity compared to the North Aït Ahmane unit of the Bou Azzer ophiolite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-202
Number of pages21
JournalGondwana Research
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Back-arc
  • Neoproterozoic
  • Ophiolite
  • SSZ
  • Serpentinite
  • U-Pb dating
  • West African Craton

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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