LITHOS, vol.268, pp.102-113, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
The Mersin Melange is a tectonostratigraphic unit within the allochthonous Mersin Ophiolitic Complex in the Taurides, southern Turkey. This chaotic structure consists of blocks and tectonic slices of diverse origins and ages set in a clastic matrix of Upper Cretaceous age. In this study, we examine two blocks at two different sections characterized by basaltic lava flows alternating with radiolarian-bearing pelagic sediments. The radiolarian assemblage extracted from the mudstone-chert alternation overlying the lavas yields an upper Anisian age (Middle Triassic). The immobile element geochemistry suggests that the lava flows are predominantly characterized by sub-alkaline basalts. All lavas display pronounced negative Nb anomalies largely coupled with normal mid ocean basalt (N-MORB)-like high field strength element (HFSE) patterns. On the basis of geochemical modelling, the basalts appear to have dominantly derived from spinel-peridotite and pre-depleted spinel-peridotite sources, while some enriched compositions can be explained by contribution of garnet-facies melts from enriched domains. The overall geochemical characteristics suggest generation of these Middle Triassic lavas at an intra-oceanic back-arc basin within the northern branch of Neotethys. This finding is of significant importance, since these rocks may represent the presence of the oldest subduction zone found thus far from the Neotethyan branches. This, in turn, suggests that the rupturing of the Gondwanan lithosphere responsible for the opening of the northern branch of Neotethys should have occurred during the Lower Triassic or earlier. (C) 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.