Recognizing OIB and MORB in accretionary complexes: A new approach based on ocean plate stratigraphy, petrology and geochemistry

I. Safonova, S. Maruyama, S. Kojima, T. Komiya, S. Krivonogov, K. Koshida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Citations (Scopus)


We present a new approach for recognizing the origin of accreted basaltic rocks based on ocean plate stratigraphy (OPS), and on the petrology and geochemistry of basalts from mid-oceanic ridges (MORB) and oceanic islands (OIB) using examples from four accretionary complexes (AC) in SW Japan: Akiyoshi, Mino-Tamba, Chichibu and Shimanto. The key to the problem is the model of OPS, which includes an association of igneous and sedimentary rocks that form on an oceanic plate during its travel from a mid-oceanic ridge to a subduction zone. We propose the reconstruction of the tectonic settings of basalts according to their relationships with associated OPS sediments, their petrogenesis and their geochemical features. Five types of OPS are recognized in the accretionary complexes of SW Japan: (1) sandstone/shale; (2) sandstone/shale and chert; (3) sandstone/shale, chert and MORB; (4) sandstone/shale, chert, MORB and gabbro (±peridotite); (5) seamount OPS including OIB, cap carbonates, slope clastics and basal shale/chert. The alkaline, tholeiitic or calc-alkaline composition of basaltic melts, which are typical of oceanic islands, mid-oceanic ridges and island-arcs, respectively, can be identified by the sequence in crystallization of their major phenocrysts, i.e. olivine (ol), clinopyroxene (cpx) and plagioclase (pl), and by their compositions. Alkaline and calc-alkaline mafic lavas are characterized by an ol → cpx → pl succession, whereas tholeiitic melts by their ol → pl ± cpx succession. Titanium-rich minerals, e.g., Ti-augite, kaersutite, Ti-biotite, are typical of alkaline lavas. The application of geochemistry-based tectonic discrimination diagrams is also a powerful tool, if not supported by geological and petrological data, may result in confusion due to magma contamination, post-magmatic alteration, and secular change of mantle thermal conditions. We propose that a direct comparison of normalized multi-element patterns and key binary plots from older volcanic rocks with their modern analogues provides a more viable and reliable method of basalt discrimination. Our OPS-petrology-geochemistry method allows us to confirm the above conclusions that the lavas of the Akiyoshi, Mino-Tamba and Southern Chichibu AC formed in oceanic islands, because they are associated with seamount OPS sediments, crystallized from ol to cpx and pl, contain Ti-augite and kaersutite and are enriched in TiO2, LREE and Nb. In this paper we present geochemical data from the Inuyama basalts of the Mino-Tamba AC and from the Toba complex in the huge Mikabu greenstone belt of the Chichibu AC. The Inuyama basalts are in contact with Jurassic pelagic cherts, but their geochemical features are confusing; they contain phenocrysts of ol, Ti-augite and kaersutite and therefore probably formed in seamounts. The Toba volcanic rocks are a part of the huge ophiolite belt; they have flat to slightly LREE-enriched REE patterns, are characterized by an ol → cpx succession of phenocrysts and they plot in the OIB field in binary plots suggesting they formed in an oceanic plateau.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-114
Number of pages23
JournalGondwana Research
Publication statusPublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Akiyoshi seamount
  • Chichibu AC-Mikabu belt
  • Mino-Tamba AC-Inuyama area
  • SW Japan
  • Sequence in crystallization of phenocrysts
  • Shimanto AC

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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