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Authors: Manuella, F. C.* 
Scribano, V.* 
Carbone, S.* 
Brancato, A.* 
Title: The Hyblean xenolith suite (Sicily): an unexpected legacy of the Ionian–Tethys realm
Issue Date: Jul-2015
Series/Report no.: 5/104 (2015)
DOI: 10.1007/s00531-015-1151-9
Keywords: Serpentinites
Permian Tethys
Hyblean Plateau
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.04. Geology::04.04.05. Mineralogy and petrology 
Abstract: The extensive study of a great number of deep-seated xenoliths from Tortonian tuff-breccia pipes in the Hyblean area (Sicily) revealed the following fundamental evidence: (1) typical continental crust rocks are completely absent in the entire xenolith suite; (2) mantle ultramafics are more abundant than gabbroids; (3) sheared oxide–gabbros, closely resembling those from oceanic fracture zones, are relatively common; (4) secondary mineral assemblages, compatible with alteration processes in serpentinite-hosted hydrothermal systems, occur both in peridotites and gabbros. Among the products of this hydrothermal activity, organic compounds, having abiotic origin via Fischer–Tropsch synthesis, occur in some hydrothermally altered gabbro and ultramafic xenoliths, as well as in hydrothermal clays. Moreover, the U–Pb dating of hydrothermal zircon grains, hosted in a xenolith of metasomatized tectonic breccia, indicated an Early–Middle Triassic age of the fossil hydrothermal system. Another line of evidence for the oceanic nature of the Hyblean–Pelagian basement is the complete absence of continental crust lithologies (granites, felsic metaigneous, and metasedimentary rocks) in outcrops and in boreholes, and the oceanic affinity of the Tertiary volcanic rocks from the Hyblean Plateau and the Sicily Channel (Pantelleria and Linosa Islands), which lack of any geochemical signature for continental crust contamination. A reappraisal of existing geophysical data pointed out that serpentinites form the dominant lithologies in the lithospheric basement of the Hyblean–Pelagian area down to a mean depth of 19 km, which represents the regional Moho considered as the serpentinization front, marking the transition from serpentinites to unaltered peridotites. On these grounds, we confirm that Hyblean xenoliths contain mineralogical, compositional, and textural evidence for tectonic, magmatic, and hydrothermal processes indicating the existence of fossil oceanic core complexes, in the geotectonic framework of the Paleo–Mesozoic, ultra-slow spreading, Ionian–Tethys Ocean forming the present Ionian–Hyblean–Pelagian domain.
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