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Title: Evolution of the Greater Caucasus Basement and Formation of the Main Caucasus Thrust, Georgia

Along the northern margin of the Arabia‐Eurasia collision zone in the western Greater Caucasus, the Main Caucasus Thrust (MCT) juxtaposes Paleozoic crystalline basement to the north against Mesozoic metasedimentary and volcaniclastic rocks to the south. The MCT is commonly assumed to be the trace of an active plate‐boundary scale structure that accommodates Arabia‐Eurasia convergence, but field data supporting this interpretation are equivocal. Here we investigate the deformation history of the rocks juxtaposed across the MCT in Georgia using field observations, microstructural analysis, U‐Pb and40Ar/39Ar geochronology, and40Ar/39Ar and (U‐Th)/He thermochronology. Zircon U‐Pb analyses show that Greater Caucasus crystalline rocks formed in the Early Paleozoic on the margin of Gondwana. Low‐pressure/temperature amphibolite‐facies metamorphism of these metasedimentary rocks and associated plutonism likely took place during Carboniferous accretion onto the Laurussian margin, as indicated by igneous and metamorphic zircon U‐Pb ages of ~330–310 Ma.40Ar/39Ar ages of ~190–135 Ma from muscovite in a greenschist‐facies shear zone indicate that the MCT likely developed during Mesozoic inversion and/or rifting of the Caucasus Basin. A Mesozoic40Ar/39Ar biotite age with release spectra indicating partial resetting and Cenozoic (<40 Ma) apatite and zircon (U‐Th)/He ages imply at least ~5–8 km of Greater Caucasus basement exhumation since ~10 Ma in response to Arabia‐Eurasia collision. Cenozoic reactivation of the MCT may have accommodated a fraction of this exhumation. However, Cenozoic zircon (U‐Th)/He ages in both the hanging wall and footwall of the MCT require partitioning a substantial component of this deformation onto structures to the south.

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DOI PREFIX: 10.1029
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Journal Name:
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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