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1 21, 1-7-1981

Basement evolution in
bythe Northern
the Hesperian
Leiden Massif.
A preliminary surveygroup
of results


E. den Tex


Historical notes Galician geology, and the work of the Leiden University petrology team in first provided. This is followed
on on
particular, are
introduction to the
geology of Galicia with emphasis on its crystalline basement and upper
mantle inliers.

Six lithotectonic units distinguished: 1) the Variscan granitic rocks and migmatites. 2) the Palaeozoic rocks and dismembered

meta-ophiolites, 3) the blastomylonitic graben between Malpica and Tuy, 4) the Lalin and Forcarey Units, 5) the Ordenes basin and its meso-

catazonal peripheral belt, 6) the predominantly mafic-ultramafic catazonal at Cabo

complex Ortegal.
The supracrustal history of western Galicia in late Precambrian and early Palaeozoic times, inferred from
as neighbouring areas, is briefly
outlined and is compared with the igneous, tectonic and metamorphic evolution of the mantle and lower crustal rocks contained in the

polymetamorphic basement complexes (1—4), which have sustained high-pressure and under
high-temperature metamorphism a flow-folding

regime prior to the Variscan Several models proposed for the development of the basement complexes in the northern Hesperian Massif

discussed. It is considered most likely that early Palaeozoic rift system caused by mantle plume diapirism, and
briefly an
accompanied by

deepseated thermal metamorphism, lower crustal recycling, updoming of the crust and incipient floor spreading, closely followed
sea was
Variscan and under and dilatational tectonic
low-pressure metamorphism, migmatization granite emplacement an intermittently compressive

regime. Finally, the probability of Precambrian orogenic in Galicia

a crust western is briefly explored.


1. Historical notes I 4.6. The catazonal central complex at Cabo 14


2. Geological introduction 2 5. Models for the development of the basement inliers in

W Galicia 14

3. Supracrustal history of NW Spain 2 5.1. A Caledonian

orogenic cycle 14

5.2. Variscan basement of Penninic 16

nappes style. ...

4. Lithotectonic units 4 5.3. Suture zone of a Variscan collision-type 17

4.1. The Variscan granitic rocks and migmatites. 4 5.4. Back-arc-basins of
... a Variscan island arc 18

4.2. The Palaeozoic supracrustal rocks and dismembered 5.5. Mantle plume rift system model IX

meta-ophiolites 5

4.3. The blastomylonitic and polymetamorphic graben 9

Acknowledgements ]9

4.4. The Ordenes basin and its peripheral belt II


4.5. The Lalin and Forcarey Units 11 References


gkuicophane-bearing syenitic gneisses in the vicinity of
He inferred the activity of an Archaean the
orogeny to explain
Schulz (1835) the first mention the nature and setting of these rocks.
was geologist to presence A porphyroid formation of

of a "primitive terrain' (read: Precambrian basement) in infra-Cambrian age. locally known as 'Olio de Sapo', was first

Galicia in which he defined

e.g. the 'formación de Lage'. This described by
Sampelayo ( 1922). From 1929 onward extensive

primitive terrain was subdivided by Ch. Barrois (1882) in contributions to the geology of Galicia were made by Dr. I.
eastern, and by J. McPherson (1881, 1883) in western Galicia Parga Pondal. This eminent geologist produced six map

to comprise the following formations: 1) granitic and scale

augen- sheets of western Galicia on a of 1:50,000. a 1:200.000

gneisses. 2) green rocks, chlorite- and talc-schists, and 3) map

of the Province of La Coruña. and a 1:500,000 map of the

micaschists of Villalba. McPherson distinguished garnet- NW Iberian Peninsula. He also (re-) defined the
and amphibolites, granulites. kin- rock units: Formación
bearing gneisses eclogites, de Lage. Olio de Sapo, Complejo
zigites and serpentinites at Cabo Ortegal, and what he called Antiguo (ancient rock complex between Malpica and Tuy).

Esquistos de Ordenes (schists around Ordenes), Lopolito de

Rocas Básicas (lopolith of basic rocks around the Ordenes

Prof. Dr. E. Den Tex, Geological Institute, Garenmarkt lb, basin), and the eastern granite and schist terrain.
The Netherlands In 1955 the Department of Structural Geology in the State

University at Leiden commenced detailed mapping the

ancient complex under the direction of L. U. de Sitter,

followed in 1957 by W. P. de Roever, with students

of the Petrology Department in that university, at Cabo

and the Vigo. The

Ortegal. on peralkaline gneisses near

Roever 1959 took over the

present author succeeded de in and

direction of the Galician research at Leiden. Systematic


mapping of western Galicia on a scale of 1:25.000 was

initiated in that year. Geochronological work by the Z.W.O.

Laboratory for Isotope Geology at Amsterdam was initiated

in 1961 underthedirectionofH.N. A. Priem. Gravity surveys

of key areas were carried out since 1968 by the Department of

Geophysics and Hydrogeology in the State University at

Leiden directed by J. G. while structural and


geochemical investigations were occasionally performed in

J. L.
collaboration with H. J. Zwart and C. Wilson of the

Department of Tectonics in the State University at Leiden,

H. A. the Research Centre of the

and with Das of Energy

Netherlands at Petten respectively.

hundred M. Sc. theses* and

Since 1955 over a unpublished
of Massif showing its division in
ten published Ph. D. theses have appeared on areas or Fig. 1. Locality map the Hesperian
After Bard et al. (1972).
problems concerning western Galician geology. A close palaeogeographic zones.

collaboration with the Laboratorio Geológico de Lage of

Pondal maintained The mapping

Parga was throughout.
is reduced thicknesses of Lower Palaeozoic
campaign was terminatedin 1973 and a
geological synthesis by strongly se-

sheets of Galicia the complete absence of Upper Palaeozoic

in preparation. Eight quences, and by
now western on a

supracrustal rocks in Galicia (Fig. 2).

scale of 1:100.000 are being published by the Galician research western

An E-W cross section on the same scale has been



prepared for the 1977 Meeting at Göttingen of the studygroup
"Variscan Orogeny in Europe" within Working Group of the

In 1977 the Galician Comprehensive cross-sections through eastern Galicia, As-

Inter-Union Geodynamics Project.

research group organized the Fifth Reunion on the Geology turias and Cantabria compiled by Mattel 1968). Julivert et al.

of the western Iberian Peninsula with the mafic/ultramafic ( 1972) and van der Meer Mohr ( 1975) indicate presence of

rocks of western Galicia as main theme (Arps et al.. 1977). extensive shallow seas in late Proterozoic and early Cambrian

times, followed by the first of important

development an

GEOLOGICAL INTRODUCTION clastic westward dipping slope during the late

2. wedge on a

Cambrian and Ordovician. then by euxinic and turbi-

A of predominantly Variscan known ditic conditions during the middle and late Ordovician. and
broad orogenic belt age.

the Massif, occupies the western perimeter of the terminated by the return of extensive shallow seas in the
as Hesperian
Iberian Peninsula (Fig. 1). Its northern extremity is situated in Silurian (van der Meer Mohr. 1975. and pers. comm., 1977)

in NW Western Galicia,
the former kingdom Galicia Spain. (Fig. 3). Sedimentation gaps, locally accompanied by slight
with the Pontevedra and La Coruña and parts of

and Orense, constitutes the axial zone. It consists of a

geanticlinal ridge flanked on either side by the géosynclinal

2. Geological of the NW Iberian Peninsula. After Carte
Fig. map
troughs of eastern Galicia and SW Portugal, in which thick
géologiquedu Nord Ouest de la Peninsule Ibérique au 500.000 me.

accumulations of Upper Proterozoic and Palaeozoic sedi-

From Engels (1972).
ments and volcanics have been preserved. An (infra-) Cam-
Legend: 1—7: Variscan rocks, 1: gabbro. 2—3 calcalkaline granite series
brian volcanodetrital molasse deposit forms an antiformal
(2: postkinematic biotite granite. 3: interkinematic biotite grano-

belt of outcrops between the NE géosynclinal and the axial diorite), 4—7 alkaline granite series (4: postkinematic two-mica

zone in western Galicia and northern Portugal (Parga Pondal granites, 5: interkinematic two-mica granites, 6: inhomogeneous
et al., 1964; Parga & Vegas. 1971; Bard et al., 1972; Fontboté migmatic granites. 7: migmatites). 8—12: Upper Precambrian and

It Lower Palaeozoic (meta-)sediments (8: Ordovician than

& Julivert, 1974). indicates substantial uplift and erosion of younger

Armorican quartzite — and Silurian, 9: Cambrian, Ordovician

Precambrian crust in what to become the axial up to
granitic was

Armorican quartzite inclusive (Spain), Complexo Xisto-grauvaquico

zone of the Variscan orogen.
The geanticlinal character of this
ante-ordovicico (Portugal), 10: Upper Precambrian (fine-grained
zone is further substantiated by its bimodal volcanic content.

facies), 11: Upper Precambrian (Ollo de Sapo facies), 12: un-

differentiated metasediments), 13: coarse-grained augengneiss, 14:

The M. Sc. theses ara written in Dutch. They may be consulted at probably younger
Precambrian metasediments and late Ordovician

the National Museum of Geology and Mineralogy. Garenmarkt lb, orthogneiss (undifferentiated), 15: polymetamorphic

of rocks (partly polymetamorphic). 17: ultramafic rocks

Leiden, or be obtained in photocopy at the expense the 16: metabasic

applicant. (partly polymetamorphic).


Fig.3. Stratigraphic cross-section of the Lower Palaeozoic strata between Cabo de Peñas and the antiform of Barquero, just E of the Cabo Ortegal

Complex. From van der Meer Mohr (1975).

angular unconformities, predominantly monomictic phic basement inliers. Two

conglo- are mono- or non-metamorphic.
merates, and felsic volcanics, have been reported from the The starts with the latter, placing more emphasis on

Upper Cambrian and from the Ordovician/Silurian transition the basement inliers later on.

zone. The letter hiatus is widespread and may extend from the

Arenig to the lowermost Devonian. Near San Vitero, in the The Variscan granitic rocks and
4.1. migmatites
province of Zamora, it is terminated by polymictic conglo- In Galicia and northern Portugal two main of Variscan

merate horizons containing deformed and metamorphic peb- granitic rocks have been recognized: 1 ) predominantly biotite-

bles derived from Lower Ordovician and older formations bearing calcalkaline granites and granodiorites with a

(Martinez Garcia, 1972; Aldaya et al., 1976). Although it is subcalcic plagioclase (An ]ll40 ), and 2) predominantly two-

clear that penetrative deformation and regional metamor- mica-bearing alkaline granites carrying albite or albite-oligo-

phism of intermediate must have occurred in clase (An

pressure type 0 20
) (Fig. 5).

early Palaeozoic time (see also Capdevila, 1965; Aldaya et al., The first type is rarely associated with granitic migmatites,

1973), Martinez Garcia's implication of a

orog- pegmatites, quartz veins and ore mineralizations of

enic cycle in NW is unwarranted, since evidence of In Galicia its intrusion be either inter- post-kinematic
Spain may or

tectonics and of mountain in relation the main of Variscan deformation.

large-scale compressive uplift a to two phases
of that is In opinion the The inter-kinematic type is locally associated with leucocratic
range age lacking. our early
Palaeozoic of microgranites and with tourmaline-, garnet- or beryl-bearing
geography NW Spain is rather reminiscent of a

of continental crust with marine incursions owing aplites.

segment to

taphrogenic movements like block-faulting and flexuring. The second main type of granite frequently into
The axial zone of the northern Hesperian Massif contains granitic migmatites and is abundantly associated with

numerous inliers of upper mantleand lower to middle crustal pegmatites, quartz veins and Sn-, W- and Li-mineralizations

material in tectonic and poly-metamorphic facies (Ypma, 1966; Hensen. 1967; 1970). It is almost
polyphase Hilgen,
and temperatures of formationand exclusively intcrkinematic, i.e. emplaced between the first and
suggesting high pressures

subsequent rétrogradation. They are arranged in more or

less second phase of Variscan deformation (Capdevila & Floor,

linear belts tectonically juxtaposed with non- or monometa- 1970; Floor, 1970; Floor, Kisch & Oen Ing Soen, 1970;

Proterozoic and Palaeozoic sediments, vol- & Floor,

morphic Upper Capdevila, Corretge 1973) (Fig. 6).

canics, migmatites and granites (Fig. 4). Rb-Sr whole rock isochron have been determined at

316 ± 10 Ma for the interkinematicalkaline and calcalkaline

4. LITHOTECTONIC UNITS and 297 11 Ma for the post-second phase

granites, at ±

calcalkaline granites (Priem et al.. 1970; van Calsteren et al.,

Six lithotectonic units be in Ga- 1979).

may distinguished western

licia, four of which are polyphase tectonic and polymetamor- Variscan granitic rocks are distributed widely throughout

Fig. 4. Map showing the distribution of polymetamorphic basement inliers. of molasse and flyschoid deposits of
Upper Precambrian age, and of

Ordovico-Silurian orthogneisses set in probably Upper Precambrian metasediments. From Den Tex ( 1976). Data after Den Tex & Floor ( 1967) and
Bard et al. (1972).

the axial zone of the northern Hesperian Massif, but they into NW Portugal where A. Ribeiro (pers. comm., 1972; 1974)

occur rarely within the polymetamorphic basement inliers has reported fossil ranging from the Cambrian to the

mentioned below. A distinct preference for fundamental Silurian for the various formations involved. Similar but

faults, such as the boundary faults of the blastomylonitic rather less variable rock types are found in the central

graben is displayed by the interkinematic calcalkaline granites Galician schist area between Forcarey. Lalin. Carballinoand

(Den Tex. 1974), while the postkinematic granites frequently Avion. A low-pressure plurifacial metamorphism has affected

form composite bodies of subcircular or concentrical outcrop. these rocks giving rise to chlorite, biotite 1 & II, garnet,

staurolite, and andalusite I & II in pelitic rock types. This took

4.2. The Palaeozoic supracrustal rocks and dismembered meta- place mainly before the second tectonic phase in a strati-

ophiolites graphic sequence previously disturbed by the first and main

In Galicia (Fig. of Variscan deformation Meerbeke

westernmost 7) the presence of Palaeozoic phase (Hilgen. 1971; van

supracrustal rocks is based correlations et al., 1973; Aldaya et al., 1973; 1975).
on lithostratigraphic Minnigh,
only, no identifiable fossils having been found in them. Further to the NE anchi- to low-grade metamorphic

Monometamorphic (semi-) pelitic schists with of Ordovician and Silurian ages have been iden-

feldspathic laminae, white and black quartzites, anthracite tified in the northwestern limb of the Barquero antiform

schists, amphibolites, calcsilicate rocks and iron-rich horizons (Matte, 1968). The sediments occurring here are rather similar

occur mainly south of the Ria de Muros Noya in a to those found in the areas mentioned above, but they are

submeridionalbelt near the Atlantic coast. This belt continues interstratified with and overlain by arkoses. crinoidal lime-

Fig. 5. Distribution
of the calcalkaline biotite granites and granodiorites in the NW Iberian Peninsula. From Den Tex (1977). Data after Carte

Géol. du NO de la Péninsule 500.000 I. Pondal et al.

Ibérique au me.
by Parga (1967).

Fig. 6. Distribution of the alkaline two mica granites in the NW Iberian Peninsula. From Den Tex (1977). Data after same source as Fig. 5.

Fig. 7. Distribution map of Ordovico-Silurian orthogneisses and early Palaeozoic mafic and ultramafic rocks in Western Galicia. From Den Tex


coarse quartzites. (micro-) conglomerates, and rhyo- coeval rock types but also of the polymetamorphic basement

litic tuffs indicating epicontinental deposition in a shallow rocks exposed in the adjoining Cabo Ortegal complex. The

and eventually penecontemporaneous erosion. Their Moeche Group be described formation

sea, may as a
fossil age may range from Upper Llandovery (Matte, 1968) to or a melange rather than an olistostrome (Hsii, 1974;

Martinez in
Upper Wenlock (Fernandez Pompa et al., 1976). This assem- Garcia et al., 1975), suggesting deposition a
is followed by furrow localized between an exhumed
blage sequence of interstratified basement complex and
a monotonous

arkoses, graywackesand phyllites indicating rapid subsidence a continental platform, locally involving more or less coeval

probably Upper Silurian times (Fernandez tectonization. Its from the

and deposition in depositional age ranges Upper

Pompa et al., 1976). The top of this sequence is formed by the Silurian to the Devonian according to lithostratigraphic and

volcano-sedimentary Moeche Group fossil evidence (van der Meer Mohr, 1975; Fernandez Pompa
greenschistfacies con-

of mafic metavolcanics, al., 1976). It rather well with the

sisting mainly meta-keratophyres. et
compares Upper Devonian

fla¿er-metagabbros and serpentinites with subordinate va- flysch reported by Ribeiro & Ribeiro (1974) from the vicinity

metacherts and crinoidal lime- of the polymetamorphic catazonal Bragança complex in NE

riegated (quartz-) phyllites,
stone-lenses. The Group also includes volcano-sedimentary Portugal.

of all Rock suites rather similar to the Moeche Group have been
and tectonic breccias containing fragments not only

Fig. 8. Geologicalsketch map of the blastomylonitic graben between Malpica and Tuy in W. Galicia, divided in three segments (northernmost on

left, southernmost From Den Tex Data after Guardia,

on righthand side). (1979). Geological map of Western Galicia 1:100,000. sheets Vigo-La

Pontevedra, Finisterre-Santiago and the Research Galicia of the Dept. of Petrology. Mineralogy and
Mugia-Carballo. publ. by Group

Crystallography, State at Leiden.


reported from the eastern, southern and western perimeter of 4.3. The blastomylonitic and polymetamorphic graben
belt Mellid, Villa de Cruces, A of repeatedly tectonized, polymetamorphic but
the Ordenes basin peripheral near zone non-

Silleda and the Monte Castelo. Koning ( 1966) was the first to
migmatic rocks trends parallel to the Variscan grain and to the

distinguish these monometamorphic greenschist- and amphi- Atlantic coast of western Galicia over a distance of 150 km

bolitc-facies rocks from the polymetamorphic amphibolite- from Malpica in the north to Tuy on the Portuguese border. It

and granulite-facies mafic and ultramafic rocks with which was first recognized as a pre-Variscan unit by Parga Pondal

they are frequently associated in the field. The conspicuous (1956) who gave it the name of Ancient Complex on the

of the is completely grounds of its abundant granitic gneisses and polymetamor-

banding polymetamorphic peridotites
absent in the The Den Tex (1961) and Den Tex & Floor
monometamorphic serpentinites. amphi- phic paragneisses.
bolites and metagabbros have characteristic fabrics ranging (1967) inferred the presence of a fossil graben structure in the

from flaser- to laminar textures of highly variable orientation. Ancient Complex which they prefer to call the blastomylonitic

More or less massive metagabbros and meta-porphyrite dykes and polymetamorphic graben. This inference was mainly

arc seen to cut across these foliated rocks and to enclose them. based on the abundance within the complex of high-level

Around the Ordenes basin peripheral belt the dominant rock granites, some of which are distinctly peralkaline, and on its

types in the greenschistfacies terrain are serpentinites and steeply inward dipping boundary faults which may locally

flaser-amphibolites, whereas meta-volcanic greenschists do- have acted as

channelways for the emplacement of early

minatearound the Cabo In both the Variscan granodiorites and biotite In recent
Ortegal complex. areas granites (Fig. 8).

prevailing rock
types are comparable with the constituents of years the evidence for the fossil graben has steadily accumu-

an ophiolite suite but they never occur in the sequence lated (cf. Floor. 1966; Arps, 1970). Its sedimentary and

required by recent definitions of the term ophiolite (Anon- volcanic content resembles Upper Proterozoic and possibly

1972). They qualify as

dismembered or non- some Lower Palaeozoic strata in eastern Galicia and N
ymous, may

ophiolites (Miyashiro, 1973) in a distinctly tecto- Portugal. They were mainly greywackes, (semi-)pelites, sand-

nized and i.e. metamorphic melange. cherts, calcareous dolomitic marls, and mafic lavas
metamorphic state, as a stones, or

or tuffs. A regional metamorphism in the high- to in-

termediate pressure facies series has first affected these rocks

giving rise to biotite and garnet in the schists and paragneisses.

while the mafic rocks were converted to amphibolites which

In the northernmost segment of the

may contain garnet.

lenses with eclogitic (type C) parageneses have been

found. All these metamorphic rocks were intruded by calcal-

kaline, subalkaline and peralkaline granites. The latter, con-

taining riebeckite. aegirine. lepidomelane and astrophyllite.

distinctly concentrated in the southern half of the graben.

Some of these granites have caused hornfelses to develop in

country rocks of non- or

low-grade regional metamorphism.
Minor occurrences of gabbro and of hybrid rocks between

gabbro and granite occur in the southernmost segment of the

graben, while a basic dyke swarm is seen to intrude the sub-

and calcalkaline but not the peralkaline granites, suggesting a

Fig. 9. Rb/Sr whole-rock data plots Vigo in the
near blastomylonitic
significant time interval between their emplacement and a
graben. From van Calsteren et al. (1979).

genetic link between the basic and felsic (Floor,



Rb/Sr isochrons of (Priem al.. 1970; of their zircon crystals contention

granitic gneisses et van morphology supports the

Calsteren al., 1979) from the graben indicate middle that these gneisses emplaced
et a to were as high-levej magmatie
late Ordovician for their first crystallization (Fig. 9). The granites (Arps, 1970).

Fig. 10. Simplified geological and Bouguer anomaly of the southern portion of the Ordenes complex. Isogals drawn at 5 mGal intervals.

Stippled outcrops of mafic and ultramafic rocks From Keasberry al.

areas are
(heavy unit). et (1976).

During the ensuing Variscan this assemblage of and their

orogeny immediate context contain globuliths (Berthelsen.

rocks was first isoclinally folded or flattened on subhorizontal 1970) of more or less hybridized garnet-bearing gabbro or

N -S trending and ( but migmatized ) diorite (Hubregtse, 1973a). in this

axes, metamorphosed not
Subsequent blockfaulting
in the facies (Winkler, has
cordierite-amphibolite 1967). Later area juxtaposed high- and low-level portions of these

they refolded subvertical N S axial planes and locally which have

were on
trending gneissose garnetiferous granites may

and partially retrograded in the greenschist facies. In this been formed by anatexis of lower crustal material under the

the granitic rocks first developed blastomylonitic thermal action of the

process a spinel-lherzolite bodies and their pyro-

texture and a foliation, marked by biotite + garnet or xenitic and gabbroic products of partial melting. A com-

riebeckite ± which folded and parison between the Ordenes belt and the fossil
aegirine. was subsequently peripheral
recrystallized under low-grade amphibolite or greenschist- graben reveals that both have been subject to a pre-Variscan
facies conditions. Rare intrusions of postkinematic biotite regional metamorphism. In the Ordenes belt this metamor-

granite constitute the termination of the Variscan cycle within phism is of the high- rather than the intermediate-pressure
the graben structure. A multi-stage graben model is and it associated with
con- type, is clearly upper mantle rock

sidered most attractive: After a pre-Variscan stage of sub- complexes. A gravity survey by Keasberry et al. (1976) over

sidence and magmatic intrusion the graben compressed the southern and southeastern segments of the
was peripheral belt

and metamorphosed. Subsequently it subsided again whereby suggests the subsurface of three rock
presence high-density
mineralized veins of the interkinematic Variscan bodies (av. d 2.89
quartz =
gem ) causing positive Bouguer anom-

granite suite were offset. Such of events is alies of 25 mGal (E of

sequence amplitudes: Santiago), 15 mGal (at

compatible with the concentration within the graben of the Mellid) and 10 mGal (near Sobrado) (Fig. 10). Depending on

Ordovico-Silurian granites, with their

high-level polyphase the density contrast chosen these bodies may reach depths

deformation and mctamorphism, and with the generally between 4 and 11 km. Zones of progressive metamorphism

lower grade of Variscan metamorphism and absence of (biotite. garnet, staurolite, kyanite) can be identified in semi-

migmatites within the graben compared the rocks

as to pelites belonging to the Ordenes schists at the inner fringe of

outside. the peripheral belt roughly parallel to the outlines of the

It certainly the of the highest level central complexes N E of Santiago and SE of Arzua. The
represents outcrop high-
the pre-Variscan basement inliers in western Galicia. level of Mellid and Sobrado well with
among orthogneisses compare

those of the fossil graben, while the adjoining,high-grade

4.4. The Ordenes basin and its peripheral belt augengneisses fit the deepseated of
garnetiferous context

A grossly basin-shaped structure, open-ended to the north is mantle

lower crustal and upper materials so characteristic of

centred the township of Ordenes in the Province of La the Ordenes

on peripheral belt in general. A Rb/Sr whole rock
Coruña. It is filled with predominantly marine metasediments isochron of six granitic augengneisses near Mellid reveals a

(the Ordenes schists of Parga Pondal. 1956) and metabasic Silurian (409 ± 26 Ma) for their crystallization (van

rocks of similar lithology as those encountered in the blasto- Calsteren et al., 1979). The 50 Ma difference with granitic

mylonitic Its constituent have been of Ordovician in the

graben. strata repeatedly gneisses age blastomylonitic graben
folded and have been intruded, especially towards the per- might be due to slower cooling and crystallization of the

ipheral closure, by high-level calcalkaline and subalkaline deeper seated garnet-bearing gneisses near Mellid or to a

granites, an association highly reminiscent of the blastomylo- intrusion

younger age.

nitic and polymetamorphic graben although the configu-

ration is different. To the W. S and E the basin is surrounded 4.5. The Lalín and Units
by a more or less inward dipping peripheral belt consisting Structurally and Iithologically the Lalin Unit is a small size

predominantly of lower crustal and the

upper mantle materials. replica of Ordenes basin. Hilgen (1971 ) defined the Lalin
To the E. SE and W from Sobrado via Mellid to Ledesma and Unit as a basin structure, open-ended to the N, where it is

from Bazar to N of Carballo, it is accompanied by mixed from the Ordenes basin belt
a separated peripheral by an

zone of mainly mafic metavolcanics. keratophyres. intermediate zone of E W

serpen- trending metabasic and metapelitic

tinites and metasediments in greenschistfacies. The peripheral rocks similarin those of the Lalin Unit and the
composition to

belt is made essentially of individual central complexes of basin

up Ordenes proper, and by a slice of the Palaeozoic

quasi-circular plan such as the Agualada (Balli, 1965) and volcano-sedimentary formation (Moeche Group cf. § 4.2).
Castriz/Bazar complexes ( Warnaars. 1967), the complex east The Lalin Unit contains polymetamorphic meta-graywackes
of Santiago (van Zuuren, 1969), the Mellid complex (Hub- (with two generations of garnet), garnetiferous amphibolites.
1973a, b) and the Sobrado (Keas- and
regtse, Teijeiro complex orthogneisses closely resembling those of the blastomylo-

bcrry et al.. 1976; Kuijper. 1979). Some of these complexes nitic graben. The amphibolites are intimately interstratified

(e.g. Mellid) incorporate subhorizontal slices of spincl-lher- with the meta-graywacke and concentrated in belt the
zolite with (garnet-) pyroxenite veins, while nearly all of them southern perimeter of the Unit, but unlike the Ordenes basin

contain bodies of and mafic to felsic peripheral belt it

or zones metagabbro, contains no ultramafic rocks and lacks

high-pressure granulite. amphibolite or

paragneiss. The Mel- evidence of granulite- or eclogite-facies metamorphic con-

lid and Sobrado/Teijeiro complexes are also characterized by ditions 11). Gravity have shown that
(Fig. surveys the Lalin
the of large bodies of augen- and the
Unit does
presence orthogneiss, not coincide with an appreciable Bouguer gravity

blastomylonitic border zones of which grade into felsic and anomaly (Keasberry et al., 1976) (Fig. 10). The unit has been
intermediate granulites and paragneisses that show evidence thrust over monometamorphic Lower Palaeozoic sediments
of been to fusion. The
having subject partial granitic gneisses of the central Galician schist belt to the south. The contact is

Fig. 11. Geological sketch of the Lalín Unit and surrounding areas. From Arps et al. (1977).
Fig. 12. Geological sketch map and cross-sections of the Cabo Ortegal complex (relief 2.5 times exaggerated). From Calsteren

situated in a white quartzite horizon that shows evidence of depending on the density contrast chosen. The SW contact

mylonitization. The Variscan isograds undisturbed from surface dips steeply inward and the SE contact gently out-

the schist belt through the tectonic contact into the Lalin Unit ward. The three-dimensional model preferred by van Over-

indicating that its emplacement occurred before the main meercn is a tilted mushroom-shaped dome or a tilted mono-

of Variscan It is folded by the second

phase metamorphism. cline overturned to the SW (Fig. 15). Van Calsteren (1978)

of Variscan deformationand intruded by late-Variscan studied the geochronologyand geochemistry of suitable rocks
granites. The Forcarey Unit lies south of the Lalin Unit and is and minerals from the complex. He found a Rb Sr whole rock

similar to it in respects (van Meerbekc et al., 1973; age of 487 ± 122 Ma for the lherzolites and 354 ± 17 Ma for

D. 1979). the mafic while the eclogite plots do allow

Minnigh. 1975: J. Hilgen, pers. coram., granulites, not a

linear correlation the Nicolaysen K-Ar mineral

on diagram.
from the catazonal rocks show peak in the
4.6. The catazonal central
complex at Cabo Ortegal ages a frequency
Around Cabo Ortegal the largest of the central complexes of histogram at 390 Ma (Fig. 16). This indicates that the

lower crustal and mantle rocks in western Galicia is well Iherzolite whole rock systems closed first ( in Cambro-Silurian

exposed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay, and times) followed by the constituent minerals of lherzolites and

their rias. The terrestrial of 20 30 km is semi- their immediate rocks, while the thermal event
outcrop x

elliptical with the long axis trending NNE. It is likely to extend terminated with the closure of the hornblende granulites at the

northward below sealevel. The complex has been studied in end of the Devonian.

great detail as regards its petrology, mineralogy, chemistry The distribution of major and trace elements led van

and geochronology (Den Tex & Vogel. 1962; Vogel. 1967; Calsteren to distinguish between continental quartz-nor-

Maaskant. 1970; Den Tex et al., 1972; van Calsteren 1977a, b, mative tholeiites. by mafic granulites and
as represented
its stratigraphy, from the Iherzolite and olivine-normative
1978: van Calsteren et al.. 1979) as well as eclogites context,

and 1972: Martinez Garcia tholeiites of oceanic island mantle

structure geophysics (Engels. et or plume type, as repre-

al., 1975; van der Meer Mohr. 1975; van Overmeeren. 1975). sented by the early Palaeozoic gabbros. pyroxenites and
Mafic and ultramafic rocks make about 75"„ of its amphibolites derived from the Iherzolite by partial melting.

surface area (Fig. 12). The core consists of spinel-lherzolite Van Calsteren (1977a. b) developed a two-stage melting

with spinelfree webstcrite. wehrlite. (garnet-) pyroxenite and model for the Cabo Ortegal ultramafics on the basis of their

pargasite phlogopite-bearing layers and veins. Their mine- chondrite-normalized La'Sm and K Rb ratios:

ralogical and chemical data reflect an

mantle origin as I ) A spinel-lherzolite melt fraction from a deep mantle plume.

garnet- or aluminous pyroxene-pyrolite producing small 2) A pargasite-peridotite residual fraction yielding partial

amounts of picritic pyroxenitic liquid and leaving melts of pyroxenite. pargasitite. phlogopite-roek and gabbro.
or a spinel-
lherzolite as solid residue during its rise through the upper His mantle plume model for the basement inliers of the NW

mantle into the lower crust (Maaskant, 1970). Subsequently Iberian peninsula as a whole will be discussed in paragraph

the ultramafic core has suffered the same tectonic and 5.5.

metamorphic history as the mafic and felsic granulites.

eclogites. amphibolites and garnet-kyanite-biotite gneisses of


its immediate context Further out to the E. Sand W

the catazonal complex is surrounded by low-grade metamor-

phic. locally ferruginous, slates, quartzites. cherts, and lime-

In recent several attempts have been made to explain the

Meer years
stones of Siluro-Devonian age (van der Mohr. 1975;

development of the western Galician basement inliers. These

Martinez Garcia et al., 1975) intermingled with greenschist-
models will be discussed and evaluated in the
and following group
facies variolites. keratophyres. serpentinites volcanic-
breccias or melanges containing catazonal fragments (Arpset

al., 1977). These peripheral associations indicate that the

catazonal complex became exposed in Siluro-Devonian time, 5.1. A Caledonian orogenic cycle

shedding debris around itself along with incipient seafloor Ferragne (1972), Martinez Garcia (1973) and Aldaya et al.

spreading in the immediate vicinity. Engels (1972) demon- ( 1973) picked up a thread left by Staub ( 1926) and
strated polyphase deformation of the complex. It started in da Costa (1952) who inferred the activity of a Caledonian

pre-Variscan times with N S fold in eclogites. in the Hesperian Massif. In the of this
trending axes orogenic cycle context

followed by recumbent folds on E W and N-S axes in all model the meso- to catazonal complexes and their partial

catazonal rocks and the development of envelopes of early Palaeozoic metasediments. metavolcanics
peripheral blastomy-
lonite zones. During the Variscan orogeny the complex was and scrpentinites may be interpreted as Caledonian basement

refolded NNE trending axial planes. Its catazonal inliers imbricated with early Palaeozoic ophiolites and
on steep as-

core was locally retrograded to greenschistfacies assemblages, sociated marine sediments. The evidence for a Caledonian

by chevron and upthrusting into have occurred here is summarized in §3

accompanied folding orogenic cycle to and

with the seafloor associations of 4. However, little evidence has far been produced for
juxtaposition low-grade so the

Siluro-Devonian age. of "Caledonian' (1) P low T metamor-

presence age high
JK gravity survey was carried out by van Overmeeren ( 1975). phism. (2) thrusting and compressive folding, (3)calcalkaline
A of 38 mGal found potassic volcanism. (4) large-scale
positive Bougueranomaly amplitude was or uplift, and (5) molasse-

centred on the complex (Fig. 14). This suggests the presence of type erosion and deposition. I am therefore inclined to adhere

body reaching between 3 and 6 km to Stille's (1927) and Lotze's (1945) view that the NW Iberian
a high-density dephts

Fig. 13. Evolutionary path of the Cabo Ortegal peridotite in the pyrolite PT-diagram. Al-P.P. aluminous S-P.P.
pyroxene pyrolite. =

pyrolite. After Maaskant (1970).

spinel pyroxene

Fig. 14. Maps of the Bouguer anomalies and metamorphic facies (inset) in the Cabo Ortegal area. After van Overmeeren (1975) and Engels (1972).

15. model of the Cabo Ortegal complex. A tilted mushroom-shaped dome of dense material the erosion surface. From
Fig. Gravity obliquely cut by

van Overmeeren (1975).

peninsula has not been affected by complete orogenic cycle extensive

gravity nappe. On the other hand Ries and Shack-
of Caledonian maintain
age. leton (op. cit.) that all of the NW Iberian basement

inliers remnants of Variscan thrust-plate rooted

are a to the
5.2. Variscan basement of Penninic style West, either in the
nappes blastomylonitic graben, or in the Porto-

Anthonioz ( 1969) and Ries & Shackleton ( 1971 ) advanced the Viseu-Guarda Zone of NW
Portugal, or even further W. in
idea that the basement inliers represent the klippen of eroded the Atlantic Ocean. Both views are based essentially on the
basement nappes produced by the Variscan The tectonic
orogeny. superposition of the high-grade polymetamorphic
Morais-Lagoa and Bragança-Vinhais complexes in NE basement
Por- complexes on low-grade monometamorphic sedi-

tugal were inferred by Anthonioz (op. cit.) to have slid down

and volcanics of
ments early to middle Palaeozoic age.
from the Mid-Galician Cordillera the SW of an
to as parts separated by more or less gently inward dipping blastomylo-

Fig. 16. Rb/Sr plot of whole rocks (with error

bars), two edenites (crosses, with low Rb, Sr ratios), and two phlogopites (crosses, with high Rb/Sr

from Iherzolites in the Cabo Ortegal complex. Isochron 1 is calculated using all six whole-rock points. The reference line is obtained
ratios) by

omitting one slightly deviatingpoint (the sample with the lowest Rb/Sr ratio). Isochrons 2 and 3 are calculated from two whole-rock s and separated

phlogopites and edenites, respectively. Between brackets the K-Ar dates of the minerals are

nitic soles, thrust planes and tectonic melanges. Synformal Moreover, it is difficult to see where the homeland of such a

structures and locally inverted metamorphic zones in the could have been situated.

basement complexes also in of the

are quoted support

model. the evidence

Variscan nappe
But following negative

may be adduced: 1) the blastomylonitic soles are of pre- 5.3. Suture zone
ofa Variscan collision-type orogen

In the of the
Variscan age (cf. § 4.4 and 4.6). 2) the contact planes, though wake bandwagon of plate tectonics almost

dipping inward, do so at angles to 80°. 3) the internal tract of country containing mafic volcanics has lately been

structures are both synformal and antiformal but always proclaimed a suture zone of continentalcollision. As a result

the the network of'suture zones' has ramified considerably and

bilaterally or
radially symmetrical in a statistical sense. 4)

main phase Variscan fold axes are deflected around the continents are being split into ever smaller 'microcontinents'.

basement inliers. 5) trend, the

positive Bouguer anomalies of up
to 38 The Hesperian Massif has been no exception to this

mGal amplitude are centred on some of the complexes Galician-Castilian zone having been cited e.g. as a suture

indicating deeply rooted rock masses of high density, 6) the zone between a North American/northern European con-

abnormally iron-rich facies ('lie-dc-vin') of the Silurian phyl- tinent and a northern Spanish microcontinent by Riding

lites surrounding certain catazonal complexes (Moráis and ( 1974). and as a leading edge of an Iberian microcontinent by

cf. Ribciro. 1974) imply in situ erosion of the (ultra-1 Badham & Halls 1975). Some of the made against
Bragança. ( objections
mafic rocks concerned in a shallow Silurian sea, 7) the model 5.1 are equally valid v.a. v. 5.3, such as absence of high
postulated root of superficial rock P-low T metamorphism and of fully developed ophiolites of
zones are
composed more

than Variscan volcanism of that is

types (orthogneisses, paragneisses. amphibolites, etc.) age. Calcalkaline age also absent

the presumed klippen (ultramafics, eclogites, granulites. etc.). in the NW Hesperian Massif, although chemically somewhat

The sense of movement in the basement inliersis radially or similar Permo-Carboniferous plutonism is widespread in that

bilaterally outward, which is incompatible with the movement area (cf. §4.1), accompanied by thrusting and compressive

gravity-nappes. In the evidence for obducted subducted

picture that operates in thrust-plates or folding. summary or

oceanic lithosphère in the Variscan of N W Spain is too


tenuous to be seriously considered.

5.4. Back-arc-basins of a Variscan island arc

Bardetal. (1973(and Ribeiro( 1974) presented more sophisti-

cated models of a collision-type orogen for the Hesperian
Massif as a whole. In their perspective the Galician-Castilian

(including Mid-GaliciaandTrás-os-MontesinPortugal)

was once a back-arc-basin that developed behind an island

arc, remnants of which are situated in the Ossa-Morena zone

of the SW Iberian Peninsula. An oceanic plate, subducted

from the SW underneath the Iberian continent, is invoked to

explain the of the presumed island arc at the collision


front in the Ossa-Morena zone. A back-arc-basin is then

supposed to have formed owing to mantle diapirism from the

subducted oceanic lithosphère, and later to have closed by

collision and subduction of island-arc and continental crust

from the SW and the NE respectively, accompanied bycrustal

diapirism. Although this model to fit the observed


distension tectonics in the Mid-Galician Trás-os-Montes

mantle diapirism and seafloor

zone, admitting incipient
spreading in an euxinic basin, it encounters objections

where time-spacc-rock relations are involved. Firstly, the

presumed back-arc-basin in the Mid-Galician Tras-os-Mon-

tes is situated 500 km NNE of the postulated

region some

trench and island and shows

outer arc early Palaeozoic

(Ordovico-Silurian) mantle-crust diapirism and incipient Fig. 17. Diagram illustrating the rift system model for the early
seafloor spreading. Assuming a dip of 30-45° for the sub- Palaeozoic geological evolution of Western Galicia.

ducted plate, a depth of 300 500 km should have been reached

by its lowermost tip. During subduction to these depths,

glaucophane-schist or
eclogue facies metamorphism should the site of long-lived epeirogenic movements and bimodal

have occurred followed by calcalkaline and potassic vol- magmatic activities from the late Precamhrian right the
up to

canism along with Cu-Zn-Pb mineralization as characteristic Variscan orogcnic climax. In a general way
it was mainly
features of mature island (Stanton. 1972 and uplift that this had then subordinate
a arc
pers. zone suffered but

comm., 1977). However only pumpellyite- and greenschist subsidence, concentrated in grabcn-like structures, was an

facies metamorphism of later Palaeozoic age ( Devono-Carbo- essential corollary. These observations led to the concept of a

niferous) is found in the Ossa-Morena rifted basement dome, deformed,

zone accompanied by metamorphosed and grani-

non-ophiolitic spilite-keratophyre volcanism and pyrite-jas- tized by the Variscan

orogeny (Den Tex. 1977. 1979; van

mineralization in the so-called Pyrite Belt of of dismembered

pei-manganese Calsteren & Den Tex. 1978). The occurrence

the SW Iberian Peninsula. These features could reflect a mcta-ophiolites. volcánica and melanges of Siluro-Devonian

cugeosynclinal setting or an incipient stage of island arc

age. closely associated with some of thecatazonal complexes,

formation only (Schermerhorn. 1975a. b). For the western interpreted evidence of seafloor
was as
incipient spreading
of the Hesperian Massif the model of de-
portion a fully upon drifting asunder of the continental crust
along preferred
veloped island arc and back-arc-basin is therefore rejected. branches of the rift
system (Fig. 17).

The results of geochronological. geochcmical and


5.5. Mantle model

plume—rift system physical work on the catazonal complexes at Cabo Ortegal

Within the Galician research at Leiden continentalrifl- and in the peripheral belt of the
group Ordenes basin led van

and mantle plume models have been under discussion Calsteren (1977a, b. 1978: Calsteren
during van el al.. 1979) to

the last decade. Recently Den Tex (1977), van Calsteren assume the presence of an early Palaeozoic mantle plume

(1977a. b. 1978; van Calsteren et al.. 1979) and van Calsteren beneath the continental crust of the N W Hesperian Massif (cf.
& Den Tex (1978) developed these models in more detail. í¡ 4.5). The spinel-pargasite Iherzolitc at Cabo
Ortegal was

In 1961 the author ventured the idea that the melt from
present shown by him to be a possible fraction a pyrolitic
ancient complex of Parga Pondal (1956) is a fossil graben (cf. parent material in the deep mantle, and to be a probable
S 4.3). It was then believed to be an essentially Prccambrian residual counterpart of its own mafic associates at later
feature, but isotope-geochronological work (Priem et al.. of partial in second-order
melting a diapiric body (Fig. 18).

1966.1970; van Calsteren et al.. 1979) has since shown that the According to Calsteren the mantle plume and its
accompanying epeirogenic granites and associated basic dyke off-shoots caused not only the inferred and
doming, rifting
of early Palaeozoic (Ordovico-Silurian) In the of the
swarms are
age. thinning continental crust, but also the two phases of
light of the supracrustal history of adjoining areas (cf. i; 3) it granulite facies metamorphism as well as the granitic anatexis

became clear that Mid-Galicia and Tras-os-Montes had been and palingenesis that occurred with the latter

phase. In this part of the model, mass movement of hot rock

is used to explain both the mechanical and the

thermal events that are recorded in the early Palaeozoic rocks

and structures concerned. Its relation to the later Palaeozoic

features of the Variscan orogeny proper cannot yet be

resolved, but the virtual overlap of radiometric dates from the

Variscan granites and the granulites around the mantle plume

diapir at Cabo Ortegal is suggestive of a fairly close link (van

Calstcren. 1977a). The presence of a lower continental crust,

that was crystalline before the Cambro-Ordovician onset of

mantle diapirism, is
implicit in the model outlined above (see

also!} 4.5). Results of radiometric dating on zircons from some

of the crustal rocks in Galicia confirm the assumption of a

Precambrian orogenic basement to the Northern Hesperian

Massif (Kuijper. 1979).


I am indebted to all members, past and present, of the working

Galicia in the State University at Leiden, and in

particular C. E. S. Arps, J. M. A. Buiskool

to Toxopeus.
P. W. C. Calsteren, P. Floor. J. D. E. J. Keasberry,
H. Koning, R. P. Kuijper. L. D. Minnigh and G. van dcr
Fig. 18. Diagram illustrating the mantle plume model for the early
Wegen, for personal communications, stimulating dis-
Palaeozoic geological evolution of Galicia. From van Calsteren

cussions and critical reading of the manuscript.



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