Retrogressive deformation and metamorphism are often reported from the main low-angle shear zones and detachments of metamorphic core complexes, but their importance is not sufficiently emphasized for the footwall interior. In order to contribute to a better understanding of exhumation-related retrogression processes within and at the top of metamorphic core complexes, an integrated detailed microstructural, textural, 40Ar/39Ar geochronological, and thermobarometric study on the Naxos metamorphic core complex within the Aegean Sea is presented that provides a new perspective on low-grade retrogression during exhumation through shallow ductile levels. We found variable retrogressive deformation within the Naxos metamorphic core complex, which even pervasively affected significant portions of the migmatite-grade metamorphic core and remnant high-pressure areas of the metamorphic core complex, where retrogression led to pervasive formation of new fabrics within greenschist-facies metamorphic conditions during brittle-ductile transition. Within a continuum of retrogression, 40Ar/39Ar white mica dating allowed us to deduce three retrogressive ages at 16.52 ± 0.39 Ma (within the Naxos metamorphic core complex), 12.6 ± 0.28 Ma (Moutsounas detachment shear zone on the eastern boundary of the metamorphic core complex), and 10.43 ± 0.44 Ma to 8.40 ± 0.76 Ma (last ductile activity along the Naxos-Paros shear zone to the north of the metamorphic core complex). A further stage of retrogression at 12−11 Ma occurred along distinct low-angle normal faults within the middle Miocene Naxos Granite. Retrogressive microstructures, low-temperature calcite fabrics in marbles, and chloritization in metapelites (at temperatures of ∼350−130 °C) in the metamorphic core complex core resulted mainly from late-stage E-W shortening and folding. Late-stage flow of hydrous fluids resulted in resetting of fabrics and enhancement of ductile deformation. The middle−late Miocene retrogression events are also reflected by a similarly aged tectonic collapse basin in the hanging-wall unit above the detachment. The wide temporal range of retrogression within the Naxos metamorphic core complex coincides in age with retrogressive deformation within other metamorphic core complexes of the Aegean Sea. We interpret the long temporal range of retrogression to reflect outward, southwestward retreat of the subduction and sequential activation of major detachment zones.
- Received 3 February 2016.
- Revision received 5 May 2016.
- Accepted 30 July 2016.
- ©The Authors
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