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Paleozoic evolution oft he Variscan Vosges mountains. In: Schulmann, K., Martínez Catalán, J. R., Lardeaux, J. M., Janoušek, V. & Oggiano, G. (eds) The Variscan Orogeny: Extent, Timescale and the Formation of the European Crust.


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A geological synthesis of the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains (NE France) is presented using existing observations and new data. The geodynamic evolution involves: (1) Early Palaeo-zoic sedimentation and magmatism; (2) Late Devonian subduction triggering back-arc spreading; (3) early Lower Carboniferous continental subduction, continent –continent collision and poly-phase deformation and metamorphism of the orogenic root; and (4) late Lower Carboniferous orogenic collapse driven by thermal weakening of the middle crust.
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Palaeozoic evolution of the Variscan Vosges Mountains
Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University,
Kitashirakawa-Oiwakecho Sakyo-ku, 606-8502 Kyoto, Japan
Ecole et Observatoire des Sciences de la Terre - UMR 7516, Universite
de Strasbourg 1, rue Blessig, 67084 Strasbourg, France
Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Wrocław, Pl. Maksa Borna 9,
50-204 Wrocław, Poland
BRGM, BP 36009, Orle
´ans cedex 02, France
Centre for Lithospheric Research, Czech Geological Survey, 11821 Prague 1, Czech Republic
*Corresponding author (e-mail:
Abstract: A geological synthesis of the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains (NE France) is presented
using existing observations and new data. The geodynamic evolution involves: (1) Early Palaeo-
zoic sedimentation and magmatism; (2) Late Devonian subduction triggering back-arc spreading;
(3) early Lower Carboniferous continental subduction, continent– continent collision and poly-
phase deformation and metamorphism of the orogenic root; and (4) late Lower Carboniferous
orogenic collapse driven by thermal weakening of the middle crust. The evolution is integrated
within the framework of the European Variscan Belt. The Northern Vosges comprise sediments
of Rhenohercynian affinity separated from Tepla
´-Barrandian metasediments by a Lower Carbon-
iferous magmatic arc. The latter is correlated with the Mid-German Crystalline Rise, and is
ascribed to the south-directed subduction of the Rhenohercynian Basin. The Saxothuringian–
Moldanubian suture is thought to be obliterated by the magmatic arc, while the Lalaye– Lubine
Fault is interpreted as the Tepla
´-Barrandian– Moldanubian boundary. The Central Vosges are
paralleled with the Moldanubian domain of the Bohemian Massif where identical lithologies
record the Devonian–Carboniferous SE-directed subduction of the Saxothuringian passive
margin below the Moldanubian upper plate. The Southern Vosges represent the upper Moldanu-
bian crust and are linked to the southern Black Forest. The presence of an oceanic domain to
the south of the Vosges Black Forest remains unclear.
Supplementary material: List of radiometric ages used for probability plots is available at http://
The Variscan orogen is an 8000 km-long belt which
formed as a result of Palaeozoic subduction and
collision events (e.g. Matte 2001; Nance et al.
2010). In Europe, it has been divided into distinct
litho-tectonic domains since the early works of
Suess (1926) and Kossmat (1927). This subdivision
into the major Rhenohercynian, Saxothuringian
and Moldanubian domains is based on the assump-
tion that the orogen represents a juxtaposition of
different litho-tectonic units formed by continuous
continental belts with their surrounding basinal
sequences (e.g. Behr et al. 1984; Ziegler 1984;
Matte et al. 1990; Franke 2000). However, a grow-
ing number of studies tends to reveal that the
Variscan domains are neither lithologically homo-
geneous (e.g. Oncken 1997; Chopin et al. 2012)
nor laterally continuous (Franke & Zelazniewicz
2000; Lardeaux et al. 2014). These works describe
the litho-tectonic domains as a more complex juxta-
position of autochthonous and allochthonous mate-
rial (e.g. Guy et al. 2011) that originally belonged
to different plates. It is therefore in the light of
these new studies and concepts that the Variscan
Orogen should be examined today.
The Palaeozoic basement of the Vosges
Mountains (NE France) illustrates the lack of conti-
nuity between the Variscan domains and the non-
cylindricity of the orogenic belt (Fig. 1a). The
Vosges Mountains are traditionally divided into a
northern part of Saxothuringian affinity and a south-
ern part correlated with the Moldanubian domain
(Kossmat 1927). The boundary is traced along the
LalayeLubine and Baden–Baden fault zones
located in the Vosges and Black Forest, respectively
(Krohe & Eisbacher 1988; Fluck et al. 1991).
However, Kossmat (1927) recognized that the
From:Schulmann, K., Martı
´nez Catala
´n, J. R., Lardeaux, J. M., Janous
ˇek,V.&Oggiano, G. (eds)
The Variscan Orogeny: Extent, Timescale and the Formation of the European Crust.
Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 405,
#The Geological Society of London 2014. Publishing disclaimer:
characteristic thrust of the Moldanubian over the
Saxothuringian was much less developed in the
Vosges Mountains than towards the east. By
comparison with the Bohemian Massif, Franke
(2000) pointed out that the Tepla
domain was missing between the Saxothuringian
Fig. 1. Geology of the Variscan Vosges Mountains. (a) Position of the Vosges Mountains in the European
Variscan Belt (after Edel & Schulmann 2009). (b) Geological map of the Palaeozoic Vosges basement (after a
compilation of BRGM maps, scale 1: 50 000 and Fluck et al. 1991). Post-Permian cover is omitted. Inset
shows the subdivision of the Vosges into a Northern, Central and Southern part. LLFZ, Lalaye Lubine Fault
Zone; SMMFZ, Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines Fault Zone.
and Moldanubian parts of the Vosges Mountains.
The presence of the Bristol ChannelBray Fault
also renders difficult the correlations with the Varis-
can massifs located to the west (Fig. 1a).
The possible correlations with the neighbour-
ing Variscan massifs leave a wealth of open ques-
tions. Although the northern Black Forest seems
to be a prolongation of the Northern Vosges (e.g.
Montenari & Servais 2000), safely linking the
Central Schwarzwald Gneiss Complex with the
Central Vosges metamorphic units remains diffi-
cult, despite their geochemical resemblance (Mu
1989). Similarly, the suture zone of a south-dipping
oceanic domain recognized in the southern Black
Forest (Loeschke et al. 1998) cannot be directly
followed in the Southern Vosges, but may be
located further to the south (Maass et al. 1990).
It is also problematic to connect the Southern
Vosges back-arc basin with the Bre
´venne unit
in the NE French Massif Central (Faure et al.
2009; Skrzypek et al. 2012b). Finally, the clas-
sical litho-tectonic zonation is questioned by Edel
& Schulmann (2009) who propose that both the
Rhenohercynian and Saxothuringian sutures could
lie to the north of the presently exposed Vosges
The present contribution tries to review more
than one century of geological observations of the
Palaeozoic basement of the Vosges Mountains. It
is complemented by new data to present a synthesis
of the lithostratigraphic record, igneous activity,
metamorphic conditions and structural evolution
of the Vosges Mountains. The different datasets
are combined in order to constrain the significance
of the different litho-tectonic units of the Vosges
Mountains, and discuss the position and geody-
namic evolution of this segment in the framework
of the European Variscan Belt.
The Palaeozoic basement of the Vosges Moun-
tains is formed by a wide central zone of granit-
oids and metamorphic rocks surrounded by Early
PalaeozoicCarboniferous (meta-)sediments to the
north and Upper DevonianCarboniferous (vol-
cano-)sedimentary rocks to the south (Fig. 1). The
Permian clastic sediments are mostly found around
the massif, but locally overlay the magmatic and
metamorphic rocks in the central part. The Vosges
Mountains are subdivided into three parts (Fig. 1
inset): the Northern Vosges are separated from the
Central Vosges by the LalayeLubine Fault Zone
(LLFZ), while the Southern Vosges are defined by
the dominant (volcano-)sedimentary rocks occur-
ring to the south of the Central Vosges granitic
Northern Vosges
The Northern Vosges correspond to a succession of
NESW-striking sedimentary belts intruded by a
magmatic suite. The latter separates the younger
sediments and volcanics of the Northern succession
from the older and weakly metamorphosed sedi-
ments of the Southern succession (Fig. 1).
Northern succession (Bruche unit). The base of the
Northern succession is represented by basaltic lava
flows, acid-volcanic rocks and coarse-grained sedi-
ments of possible Lower Devonian age (e.g. Juteau
1971; Fig. 2). They are overlain by early Middle
Devonian conglomerate and sandstone (Benecke
¨cking 1898) and Givetian greywacke-pelite
alternating with bimodal volcanism (Firtion 1945,
1957). The volcanic association is composed
of mostly submarine altered basalt and rhyolite
(‘spilite-keratophyre’) with pyroclastic breccias
showing a tholeiitic affinity (Ikenne & Baroz 1985;
Rizki & Baroz 1988). The Givetian age is also
recognized in scarce carbonate lenses, which pre-
serve evidence of a reef environment receiving
abundant siliceous material from the neighbouring
continent (Jaeckel 1888; Bu
¨cking 1918; Blanalt
1969), and in the surrounding polymictic conglom-
erate containing Late Cambrian granitic pebbles
¨rr et al. 1992). These observations indicate that
the Middle Devonian is associated with the ero-
sion of a Cambrian substratum, coastal sedimen-
tation and the development of reef carbonates in a
relatively shallow-marine siliciclastic basin (Fig. 2).
The sedimentary succession continuously passes
to thick Frasnian and Famennian sandy-pelitic
deposits with radiolarite intercalations and numer-
ous samples of plant debris (Figge 1968; Blanalt &
´1973; Braun et al. 1992; Aghai Soltani et al.
1996; Fig. 2). This record reflects a quiet sedimen-
tation in a coastal environment receiving continen-
tal flora (Blanalt & Doubinger 1973). However,
late Upper Devonian sedimentary breccias with
clasts of the underlying lithologies indicate sub-
sequent sedimentary instabilities. It is further sup-
ported by the lower Visean greywacke and pelite
alternations which document a synsedimentary
tectonic activity and preserve characters of flysch-
type turbiditic deposits (Corsin & Dubois 1932;
Dubois 1946; Corsin et al. 1960). The Early
Carboniferous tectonic activity probably culminates
during middle Visean time, as indicated by the
sedimentary hiatus, contact metamorphism (Bon-
homme & Pre
ˆt 1968) and the contemporaneous
magmatism occurring to the south.
Few upper Visean deposits are found in the
axial part (‘Bande me
´diane’) of the magmatic suite
(Fig. 1). They are juxtaposed with granitic rocks
as a result of late normal faulting. They chiefly
correspond to pyroclastic rocks and ignimbrite,
but rare pelite and greywacke are also observed
(Elsass & von Eller 2008). According to Rizki
et al. (1992), this calc-alkaline to shoshonitic vol-
canism is related to the upper part of the magmatic
suite and is indicative of an active margin setting
in the late Lower Carboniferous.
Upper CarboniferousPermian sediments and
volcanics are present on both sides of the magmatic
suite (Fig. 1). They are represented by Stephanian
Autunian coal-bearing coarse-grained sediments
(Doubinger 1956, 1965), Saxonian rhyolitic volcan-
ism (Mihara 1935; Lippolt & Hess 1983; Boutin
et al. 1995) and Thuringian arkosic sandstone and
conglomerate (Hollinger 1969; Fig. 2). In the Ste-
phanianAutunian deposits, numerous pebbles of
magnesio-potassic (MgK) granite, gneiss and
schist from the Central Vosges indicate that the
deep crustal levels were already close to the surface
at that time. It was followed by a widespread Mid-
dle Permian subaerial acid volcanism which is
also documented in the neighbouring Black Forest
or Saar regions (Lippolt et al. 1983; Schleicher
et al. 1983) and by Upper Permian continental
Southern succession (Ville
´and Steige units). The
Southern succession is represented by the two
NESW-trending Ville
´and Steige units (Fig. 1).
The structurally deeper Ville
´unit is formed by
CambrianOrdovician pelite followed by quartzo-
pelitic sediments with quartzite and acid tuff
intercalations that have all been metamorphosed
under greenschist-facies conditions (Doubinger &
von Eller 1963b; Ross 1964; Reitz & Wickert
1989; Fig. 2). Although a Precambrian age has been
proposed (Doubinger & von Eller 1963b), the
´unit seems to be correlated with the similar
Late CambrianEarly Ordovician low-grade sedi-
ments found in the northern Black Forest (Monte-
nari & Servais 2000). The Ville
´unit is overlain
by OrdovicianSilurian sandy and chiefly pelitic
metasediments of the Steige unit which show a low-
grade metamorphic overprint (Doubinger 1963;
Doubinger & von Eller 1963a; Ross 1964). The litho-
logy and major element geochemical signature of
both units suggest that the Early Palaeozoic sedi-
mentation occurred in a shallow-marine, probably
platform, environment (Tobschall 1974).
Central Vosges
In the Central Vosges, it is possible to distinguish
between a narrow zone of metamorphic units to
the north and a larger zone of granitoids to the
south (Fig. 1). The latter frequently hosts large mig-
matitic bodies which are derived from lithologies
found in the metamorphic units.
Metamorphic units. The metamorphic core of the
Central Vosges can be divided into three units
(from bottom to top): the felsic granulite, varied
and monotonous units (Fig. 1). The monotonous
unit is chiefly composed of biotite sillimanite mig-
matitic paragneiss with few peridotite slices (von
Eller 1961). The varied unit comprises garnet-
bearing migmatitic paragneiss, amphibolite, marble
and rare eclogite (Fluck 1980), whereas the felsic
granulite unit hosts mylonitized quartz K-feldspar
rocks (‘leptynites’) with scarce mafic granulite.
The felsic granulite unit is most likely of igneous
origin, whereas both the varied and monotonous
gneiss units are derived from sedimentary protoliths
(Skrzypek et al. 2012a). The monotonous gneiss
unit preserves detrital zircon ages which suggest
that the sandy-pelitic precursors were deposited
Fig. 2. Synthectic lithostratigraphic columns for the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains. References for lithology and
palaeontology: Northern Vosges, Northern succession. Bruche unit: 1, Benecke & Bu
¨cking (1898); 2, Firtion (1945,
1957); 3, Jaeckel (1888), Bu
¨cking (1918), Blanalt (1969); 4, Blanalt & Doubinger (1973), Blanalt & Lillie
´(1973); 5,
Figge (1968); 6, Braun et al. (1992), Aghai Soltani et al. (1996); 7, Corsin & Dubois (1932), Dubois (1946), Corsin et al.
(1960). Upper Carboniferous– Permian stratigraphy: 8, Doubinger (1956, 1965); 9, Velain (1885), Benecke & von
Verveke (1890), Choubert & Gardet (1935), Laubacher & von Eller (1966), Hollinger (1969). Northern Vosges,
Southern succession. Ville
´unit: 10, Doubinger & von Eller (1963b), Ross (1964), Reitz & Wickert (1989). Steige unit:
11, Doubinger (1963), Doubinger & von Eller (1963a), Ross (1964), Tobschall (1974). Southern Vosges.
Allochthonous units: 12, Doubinger & Ruhland (1963), Maas & Stoppel (1982); 13, Corsin & Mattauer (1957), Corsin &
Ruhland (1959); 14, Markstein sedimentology after Krecher et al. (2007). Autochthonous units: 15, Chevillard (1866),
Asselberghs (1926), Bain (1964); 16, Fournet (1847), Mathieu (1968), Corsin et al. (1956), Mattauer & The
(1957), Corsin & Mattauer (1957), Mattauer (1959), Coulon et al. (1978); 17, Hahn et al. (1981), Vogt (1981), Hammel
(1996), Montenari et al. (2002); 18, Tornquist (1895, 1896, 1897, 1898), Dele
´pine in Mattauer (1959), Doubinger &
Rauscher (1966), Coulon & Lemoigne (1969), Corsin et al. (1973), Coulon et al. (1975a,b), Coulon et al. (1978), Hahn
et al. (1981), Hammel (1996); 19, Mathieu (1968), Creuzot (1983). References for radiometric ages: Northern Vosges:
a, Do
¨rr et al. (1992); b, Bonhomme & Pre
ˆt (1968); c, Boutin et al. (1995), Hess et al. (1995), Reischmann & Anthes
(1996), Altherr et al. (2000), Edel et al. (2013); d, Edel et al. (2013); e, Lippolt & Hess (1983), Boutin et al. (1995);
f, Bonhomme & Dunoyer de Se
´gonzac (1962); g, Clauer & Bonhomme (1970). Central Vosges: h, Skrzypek et al.
(2012a); i, Boutin et al. (1995); j, Schaltegger et al. (1999); k, Schulmann et al. (2002); l, Kratinova
´et al. (2007).
Southern Vosges: m, Skrzypek et al. (2012b); n, Schaltegger et al. (1996).
during the Late CambrianEarly Ordovician (Fig.
2). The sediments were subsequently affected
by medium-pressurehigh-temperature (MP/HT)
metamorphism. On the other hand, U Pb zircon
ages reveal that the felsic granulite protolith was
probably emplaced during the Late Cambrian at
c. 500 Ma. It was shortly followed by the sedimen-
tation of the protoliths of the varied gneiss unit
during Late Ordovician(?)Early Silurian time
(Fig. 2). Despite a strong tectono-metamorphic
overprint, it is possible to recognize that the varied
unit initially involved a thick basal layer of basic
magmatic rocks overlain by pelitic sediments
containing intercalations of limestone, quartzite
and acid-volcanic rocks (Fluck 1980). The felsic
granulite and varied gneiss units both underwent
high-pressurehigh-temperature (HP/HT) meta-
morphism (Fig. 2).
Magmatic units. The numerous magmatic rocks of
the Central Vosges can be divided into two distinct
groups. The oldest I-type magmatic event is associ-
ated with elongated bodies of biotite amphibole-
bearing porphyritic granitoid (CVMg –K granitoids)
and occurred at 340 –335 Ma across a large part of
the Vosges (Figs 1 & 2). The CVMgK granitoids
are intrusive in the Central Vosges metamor-
phic units as well as in the Southern Vosges sedi-
ments where microgranite sills are developed. The
younger S-type Central Vosges Granite (CVG) rep-
resents a second event of widespread anatexis in
the Central Vosges at 330 –325 Ma (Fig. 2). Detailed
mapping of this voluminous biotite-bearing ana-
tectic granite reveals the presence of numerous
xenoliths of MgK granitoid, gneiss or sedimentary
rocks (von Eller 1961). On the other hand, the
associated biotitemuscovite-bearing leucogranites
´zouard-Bisltein’) correspond to
narrow and elongated plutons that occur along the
major tectonic discontinuities (Fig. 1).
Southern Vosges
The Southern Vosges are dominantly composed of
(volcano)-sedimentary successions that are divided
into allochthonous and autochthonous units (Jung
1928). The boundary between the units lies close
to the Klippen Belt which corresponds to discon-
tinuous exposures of partly ophiolitic material.
Towards the south, an east west-trending MgK
magmatic complex is intrusive in the autochthonous
units (Fig. 1).
Autochthonous units (Oderen and Thann units). The
oldest autochthonous sediments (‘Belfortais’) are
found in the southernmost part of the Vosges
(Fig. 1). There, limestones of probable Frasnian
age are conformably overlain by a thin Fammenian
pelitic sequence (Chevillard 1866; Asselberghs
1926; Bain 1964) which preserves a fauna indicat-
ing an Upper Devonian platform environment
(Fig. 2). The pelites are in turn unconformably over-
lain by a Lower Carboniferous conglomeratic grey-
wacke which is also observed in the northern part
of the autochthonous units (Oderen unit). There,
the autochthonous succession corresponds to thick
Tournaisianlower Visean pelite and greywacke
with episodic conglomerate and carbonate depos-
its (Corsin et al. 1956; Corsin & Mattauer 1957;
Mattauer & The
´obald 1957; Mattauer 1959). The
sediments are locally interlayered with submarine
altered basalt and rhyolite (‘spilite-keratophyre’)
showing a tholeiitic affinity (Lefevre et al. 1994).
Towards the top of the Oderen unit, acid vol-
canism is found together with more abundant car-
bonate intercalations indicating an early middle
Visean age (Hammel 1996; Montenari et al. 2002),
although Tournaisian fossils are also found (Hahn
et al. 1981; Vogt 1981). The Oderen unit repre-
sents flysch-type turbiditic deposits (Gagny 1962;
Krecher 2009) that were later affected by middle
upper Visean sedimentary instabilities as indicated
by the resedimented fauna occurring at its top
(Schneider et al. 1989). These instabilities are the
only expression of the so-called ‘intra-Visean
event’, and no significant deformation or sedimen-
tary hiatus is documented in the Vosges Mountains
at that time (Schneider et al. 1989).
The boundary with the younger autochtho-
nous unit (Thann unit) is marked by the emplace-
ment of abundant andesitic lavas (Fig. 2) that have
a calc-alkaline potassic affinity (Lefevre et al.
1994). They are overlain by upper Visean sandstone
or conglomerate alternating with trachytic to rhy-
olitic volcanic rocks (Corsin et al. 1973; Coulon
et al. 1975a,b, 1978). Up to the Namurian, the coar-
sening of sediments and the increasing amount of
plant debris indicate the progressive filling of
small basins associated with an ultimate episode
of high-K rhyolitic volcanism (Lefevre et al. 1994).
The continental sedimentation is later characterized
by StephanianSaxonian sandstone, conglomerate,
pelite and rhyolitic tuff with some coal-bearing
strata (Mathieu 1968; Creuzot 1983).
Allochthonous units (Klippen Belt and Markstein
units). The allochthonous units are represented by
the dominant Markstein unit and the Klippen Belt,
which is regarded as the base of the allochthonous
succession (Jung 1928; Schneider et al. 1990;
Skrzypek et al. 2012b). The klippen preserve ser-
pentinite, ophicalcite and Famennian gabbro over-
lain by a conglomeratic greywacke containing
Neoproterozoic gneiss blocks. This block-in-matrix
formation is capped by Famennian siliceous pelite
(Maass & Stoppel 1982; Fig. 2). The Klippen Belt
is conformably overlain by thick lower Visean
pelite and greywacke deposits (Markstein unit) with
only minor conglomerate and carbonate material
(Corsin & Mattauer 1957; Corsin & Ruhland
1959). The sedimentation is thought to last up to
the upper Visean (e.g. Krecher 2005), but middle
Visean granitic intrusions in the already folded
allochthonous units make this hypothesis unlikely.
To summarize, the allochthonous lithologies indi-
cate the presence of a deep Late Devonian basin
subsequently filled by lower Visean flysch turbi-
dites with characters of a prograding system of
sandy submarine fans (Krecher et al. 2007).
Four major magmatic associations are recognized in
the Variscan Vosges Mountains. From north to
south, they include: the Northern Vosges magmatic
suite, the Central Vosges MgK granitoids, the
Central Vosges Granite and the Southern Vosges
MgK complex.
Northern Vosges magmatic suite
The Northern Vosges magmatic suite (‘Champ du
Feu’) corresponds to NE SW-trending or circular-
shaped magmatic bodies intruding the surrounding
(meta-)sedimentary units (Fig. 1). It is a composite
succession of I- to S-type plutons associated with
subaerial to aerial volcanic rocks which were all
emplaced during a short middle Visean event at
335330 Ma (Fig. 2).
The oldest I-type magmatic rocks correspond
to the narrow belts of diorite (‘Neuntelstein’) and
the southern granodiorite body (‘Hohwald’). Al-in-
hornblende barometry points to an intrusion depth
of c. 10 km for the diorite (Altherr et al. 2000);
the southern granodiorite was emplaced at a slightly
shallower level as indicated by intrusive contacts
with the low-grade Steige metasediments and by
the presence of numerous metasedimentary xeno-
liths. I-type magmatic rocks show a clear enrich-
ment in light rare earth elements (LREE) and
large ion lithophile elements (LILE) and pro-
nounced Nb and Ti anomalies (Altherr et al.
2000). The isotopic compositions lie at 1
22.9 to 21.8 and
0.70612 for the diorite, and 1
¼20.5 to 0.4
¼0.705290.70534 for the
granodiorite (recalculated after Altherr et al. 2000;
Fig. 3). The volcanic rocks comprise pyroclastite,
tuff and ignimbrite that range from a basaltic to
rhyolitic composition. Trace elements reveal Nb
and Ti anomalies, and support a genetic link with
the I-type plutonic rocks (Elsass & von Eller
2008). It is proposed that the diorite is derived
from an enriched lithospheric mantle source, while
the granodiorite originated from the melting of a
meta-igneous protolith (Altherr et al. 2000).
The calc-alkaline magmatic activity is followed
by the intrusion of the S-type northern granite
(‘Belmont’). This heterogeneous body hosts abun-
dant xenoliths of sedimentary and volcanic rocks
(Elsass & von Eller 2008) which suggest that its
emplacement at a shallow depth was associated
with magmatic stoping of the overlying Northern
succession. The last magmatic episode is reflected
by the intrusion of the circular-shaped, S-type
younger granites (‘Andlau’, ‘Natzwiller’, ‘Senones’
and ‘Kagenfels’ granites) which cross-cut the
NESW-trending bodies (Fig. 1). These high-K to
shoshonitic granites are characterized by a grano-
phyric texture towards their margins, and represent
the shallowest intrusions of the magmatic suite.
S-type magmatic rocks are enriched in LILE and
show weak Nb, Ti anomalies compared to the
I-type plutonic rocks (Altherr et al. 2000). The iso-
topic compositions are nearly similar for the north-
ern and younger granites with 1
¼23.4 to 22
¼0.705350.70609 (recalcu-
lated after Altherr et al. 2000; Fig. 3). Both show
geochemical features indicating melting of metase-
dimentary (metagreywacke for the northern granite)
protoliths (Altherr et al. 2000). Previous works
emphasize the calc-alkaline to high-K affinity of
the Northern Vosges magmatic suite and interpret
Fig. 3. Summary of 1
Sr isotopic data
for the major magmatic associations of the Palaeozoic
Vosges Mountains. Data are recalculated at 340 Ma for
the CVMg K and SVMg K, 330 Ma for the Northern
Vosges magmatic suite (after Altherr et al. 2000) and
320 Ma for the CVG.
it as arc-type magmatism related to an Early Car-
boniferous subduction event (Altherr et al. 2000;
Tabaud 2012).
Central Vosges MgK association
The Central Vosges Mg –K association exhibits por-
phyritic plutonic rocks ranging from amphibole
biotite syenite (durbachite) to granite (‘Granite
des Cre
ˆtes’) emplaced between 340 and 332 Ma.
The prominent geochemical feature of these rocks
is a constant total alkali content with increasing
and a significant enrichment in Mg,
Ni, Cr, K, U and Th. In addition, they show a decreas-
ing REE content from the basic to the acid end-
members. The isotopic data indicate nearly constant
¼26.7 to 5.3 values with
increasing from 0.7096 to 0.7137 (Tabaud 2012;
Fig. 3).
The rocks of the CVMgK association are
thought to reflect the partial melting of an enriched
lithospheric mantle located above a subduction
zone and the subsequent crustal contamination of
the magma at a deep crustal level (Gagny 1968).
It is proposed that they represent the mixing
between mantle magmas and acid melts derived
from the anatexis of the lower orogenic crust
(Tabaud 2012).
Central Vosges Granite
The large Central Vosges Granite (‘Granite fonda-
mental’), emplaced between 335 and 325 Ma,
corresponds to different textural variants of biotite
or muscovite-biotite granite that locally contain
cordierite or andalusite (Hameurt 1967; Tabaud
2012). These are typical S-type peraluminous gran-
ites with a high LILE content. With respect to the
average continental crust, the CVG is enriched in
light REE and medium REE, but shows a similar
heavy REE content (Tabaud 2012). Based on iso-
topic data, it is possible to distinguish between the
eastern and western CVG. The eastern CVG shows
higher 1
¼25.2 to 4.1 and lower
¼0.70890.7117 values than the west-
ern CVG. The latter preserves a nearly con-
stant 1
¼6.8 to 6.1 with
0.71520.7198 (Tabaud 2012; Fig. 3).
The presence of relictual Mg –K granitoid, gneiss
or sedimentary rocks within the CVG (von Eller
1961) and its isotopic signature are used to interpret
the CVG as a result of in situ melting of a hetero-
geneous orogenic middle crust (Tabaud 2012).
Southern Vosges MgK association
The southeastern part of the autochthonous
volcano-sedimentary units is intruded by the
eastwest-trending SVMg–K magmatic complex
(‘Ballons’ complex; Fig. 1). The oldest intrusions
correspond to a peripheral zone of gabbro, diorite
and monzogranite which were probably emplaced
at c. 345 Ma. They were shortly followed by the
intrusion at c. 340 Ma of a large biotite –amphibole-
bearing monzonite to granite with a fine-grained
(‘Corravillers’) to porphyritic (‘Ballons’) texture
(Fig. 2). The plutonic bodies are associated with
high-K volcanic rocks (‘Molkenrain’) in the auto-
chthonous Thann unit (Fig. 1).
The high amounts of U and Th (e.g. Rothe
indicate that the granite is strongly similar to the
CVMgK granitoids found in the Central Vosges.
As for the CVMgK association, the SVMg– K
rocks show constant total alkali content with
increasing SiO
and enrichment in Ni, Cr, K, U
and Th with a weaker Mg enrichment. The REE
content also decreases from the basic to the acid
end-members. By contrast, the isotopic compo-
sitions are more primitive (Fig. 3) with 1
4.8 to 1.4 and
(Tabaud 2012). Previous studies show that the
SVMgK association has a high-K signature and
is probably derived from a basaltic source, either
of tholeiitic (Andre
´bien 1983) or shoshonitic
affinity (Pagel & Leterrier 1980). Andre
proposes that the basic rocks located at the margin
of the SVMgK complex are derived from frac-
tional crystallization of a tholeiitic basaltic
magma, while Pagel & Leterrier (1980) relate the
SVMgK complex to hyperpotassic or shoshonitic
series where alkaline magma was contaminated by
the continental crust. The mixed mantle and
crustal affinities are also recognized in the volcanic
rocks and could testify for a subduction setting
`vre et al. 1994).
Metamorphic record
Contrasted metamorphic conditions are documented
across the Vosges Mountains (Fig. 4). They range
from limited contact metamorphism around the
granitoids to ultra-high-pressure conditions in peri-
dotite slices of the Central Vosges. Nevertheless,
geochronological studies demonstrate that meta-
morphism was restricted to a relatively short Late
DevonianEarly Carboniferous period.
Contact metamorphism
The various granitoid intrusions are commonly
associated with metamorphic aureoles in the neigh-
bouring sedimentary rocks. The polyphase intru-
sion of the Northern Vosges magmatic suite is
responsible for contact metamorphism in both the
Northern and Southern successions (Fig. 4a). The
sediments of the Bruche unit document a resetting of
the RbSr isotopic system (Bonhomme & Pre
1968), whereas a narrow aureole of hornfels and
spotted slate was generated by the southern grano-
diorite and the younger Andlau granite in the
Steige unit (Rosenbuch 1877; von Eller 1964).
In the Southern Vosges, the margin of the
allochthonous Markstein unit and parts of the auto-
chthonous Oderen unit are affected by contact meta-
morphism over a relatively large area (Fig. 4a). In
the northern part, the MgK granitoids produce
mostly hornfels while both the Mg–K and Central
Vosges granites transform the southern sediments
into spotted slates. Hornfels is additionally found
in the autochthonous units around the SVMg–K
magmatic complex.
Low- to medium-grade metamorphism
(Northern Vosges)
In the Northern Vosges, metasedimentary and meta-
volcanic rocks exhibit a very low- to medium-
grade overprint increasing towards the south (Fig.
4a). The volcanic rocks of the central magmatic
suite preserve prehnite and actinolite (Reibel &
Wurtz 1984) which indicate PTconditions of
Fig. 4. Summary of existing metamorphic data for the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains: (a) spatial distribution of the
metamorphic grade; (b)P–T estimates for the Northern Vosges metamorphic rocks; (c) peak and retrograde PT
estimates for the Central Vosges metamorphic units and peridotite intercalations. Reactions: Kaolinite dickite
(Ehrenberg et al. 1993), kaolinite –pyrophyllite (Frey 1987), Cld +Bt ¼Grt +Chl with Mn/(Mn +Fe +Mg) in
garnet indicated and Grt +Chl ¼St +Bt (Spear & Cheney 1989), prehnite actinote (Pr– A) field (Schiffman & Day
1999). Pelite wet solidus (PWS), muscovite and biotite dehydration melting (d.m.) curves compiled by Thompson &
Connolly (1995). Mineral abbreviations follow IUGS recommendations after Kretz (1983). References: a, Clauer &
Bonhomme (1970), Clauer (1970); b, Reibel & Wurtz (1984); c, Ighid (1985) and own observations; d, Gayk &
Kleinschrodt (2000); e, Skrzypek et al. (2012a); f, Rey et al. (1989); g, Rey et al. (1992); h, Latouche et al. (1992);
i, Altherr & Kalt (1996).
200300 8C at pressures not exceeding 12 kbar.
In the Steige unit, the assemblage paragonite–
chloriteillite together with the transition from
kaolinite to dickite point to a temperature of 100
200 8Catc. 1 kbar (Fig. 4b), except along the
contact with the Ville
´unit where pyrophyllite may
indicate a slightly higher temperature (Clauer
1970). By contrast, pyrophyllite and illite with
increasing crystallinity are common in schist and
phyllite of the Ville
´unit (Clauer 1970), suggest-
ing PTconditions of 1 –2 kbar and 250 350 8C
(Fig. 4b). Towards the south, mica schist with
a garnetbiotite assemblage pervasively replaced
by muscovite chlorite is found in a narrow
zone along the LLFZ (Ighid 1985). Chemical
analyses reveal a significant spessartine proportion
in the garnet core (0.1 0.2), and point to peak
PTconditions of 350 500 8C at pressures higher
than 2 kbar (Fig. 4b). The review of meta-
morphic data therefore indicates that the Southern
succession experienced metamorphism along a
standard geothermal gradient for a stable continen-
tal crust and that PTconditions reached the
upper greenschist facies close to the Central
Vosges metamorphic units.
Medium- to high-grade metamorphism
(Central Vosges)
In the metamorphic units of the Central Vosges, the
high-grade felsic granulite and varied gneiss are
mantled by a large zone of medium-grade monoto-
nous gneiss (Fig. 4a). Several studies recognize
that an initial medium-to-high-pressurehigh-
temperature (MPHP/HT) stage is pervasively
overprinted by a low-to-medium-pressurehigh-
temperature (LPMP/HT) metamorphic event. In
the monotonous unit, a relictual garnet stauro-
litekyanite assemblage points to prograde meta-
morphism up to 6 –7 kbar and 600 700 8C (Rey
et al. 1989; Latouche et al. 1992). The subsequent
development of abundant sillimanite, cordierite
and biotite indicates a drop in pressure below
45 kbar at temperatures probably still above
550600 8C (Fig. 4c). The metamorphic evolution
of the varied gneiss and felsic granulite units is
markedly different (Fig. 4c). In both units, the
occurrence of garnetkyanite–K-felspar is used to
propose HP granulite-facies metamorphism with
peak PTestimates of 14 –16 kbar at 820 880 8C
for the varied gneiss (Rey et al. 1989; Skrzypek
et al. 2012a) and 1215 kbar at 700– 900 8C for
the felsic granulite (Pin & Vielzeuf 1988; Gayk &
Kleinschrodt 2000; Skrzypek et al. 2012a). How-
ever, their retrograde evolution is nearly shared
with that of the monotonous unit (Fig. 4c). In the
varied gneiss, the assemblage biotitesillimanite
cordierite with minor hercynite indicates a LP/HT
stage at 25 kbar and 600– 700 8C (Rey et al.
1989, 1992), while the felsic granulite is retrogres-
sed at 23 kbar and 650– 700 8C (Gayk & Kleins-
chrodt 2000). According to Altherr & Kalt (1996),
the garnet peridotites initially equilibrated close to
the graphite– diamond transition at 49 kbar and
1000 8C before being incorporated into the felsic
granulite unit at 10 kbar/700 1000 8C (Fig. 4c).
Towards the south, partially molten gneiss
bodies are entirely surrounded by the CVG (Fig.
4a). They correspond to orthogneiss with a rela-
tively low melt fraction (10 30%), metasedimen-
tary migmatite with a variable amount of former
melt (1080%) or nebulitic migmatite with scarcely
oriented biotite (Schulmann et al. 2009a).
The compilation of geochronological data for the
Palaeozoic basement of the Vosges Mountains
emphasizes the Late DevonianEarly Carbonifer-
ous thermal events. They are related to medium-
to high-grade metamorphism in the Central
Vosges, but also to several magmatic events which
occurred across the entire massif.
Timing of the igneous activity
The synthesis of existing ages for igneous rocks
indicates distinct pulses of magmatic activity
between 350 and 290 Ma (Fig. 5a). The oldest
igneous rocks are related to the basic plutonism
which occurred at the margin of the SVMg–K
complex at c. 345 Ma, as indicated by U Pb zir-
con data on diorite and monzodiorite samples
(Schaltegger et al. 1996; Tabaud 2012). It was
shortly followed by more abundant magmatism
with the intrusion of the larger SVMgK granite
at 339 336 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1996; Tabaud
2012) and the associated aerial rhyolitic volcanism
at 340 –335 Ma (Boutin et al. 1995; Schaltegger
et al. 1996). The SVMgK magmatism is nearly
coeval with the CVMgK event recognized in the
Central Vosges (Fig. 5a). There, durbachitic to
granitic intrusions preserve U Pb zircon ages
between 340 and 332 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1996;
Schulmann et al. 2002). Nevertheless, a few
zircon cores yielding ages of c. 350 Ma suggest
that this magmatic event could have started earlier
(Tabaud 2012).
Following both MgK events, arc-type magma-
tism took place in the Northern Vosges (Fig. 5a).
The successive intrusions of I- to S-type plutons
are dated by various methods, and there is a
general agreement to consider this episode to be
relatively short-lived and lasting from 335 to
330 Ma (Boutin et al. 1995; Hess et al. 1995;
Reischmann & Anthes 1996; Altherr et al. 2000;
Edel et al. 2013). However, recent UPb zircon
and monazite data show inheritance at 360
345 Ma (Elsass & von Eller 2008; Edel et al.
2013), indicating that the igneous activity in the
Northern Vosges could have started earlier. Conver-
sely, several
Ar ages of c. 320 Ma reported
for the magmatic suite could represent partial reset-
ting due to the younger and widespread Middle
Permian acid volcanism estimated at 299 293 Ma
in the northernmost part of the Vosges Mountains
(Lippolt & Hess 1983; Boutin et al. 1995).
The latest Carboniferous magmatic event pro-
duced granitoids which cover the largest part of
the Central Vosges (Fig. 1). It is associated with
the emplacement of the Central Vosges Granite at
328320 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1999; Tabaud
2012) and leucogranites between 330 and 323 Ma
(Boutin et al. 1995; Schulmann et al. 2002; Krati-
´et al. 2007). The CVG also preserves inherited
zircon or monazite ages of c. 335 Ma, suggesting
that the granite digested host rocks emplaced or
metamorphosed during the Early Carboniferous,
that is, most likely rocks belonging to the Central
Vosges metamorphic units (Tabaud 2012).
Timing of metamorphism
Previous geochronological studies show that meta-
morphic ages cluster at 350 330 Ma (Fig. 5b).
Few data document Early Carboniferous meta-
morphism in the Northern Vosges. Rb Sr whole-
rock analyses indicate contact metamorphism in
the Northern succession at 339 +22 Ma due to
the intrusion of the northern granite (recalculated
age after Bonhomme & Pre
ˆt 1968), while the
southern granodiorite affects the Southern succes-
sion at 339 +38 Ma (recalculated pooled age
after Clauer & Bonhomme 1970). In the Central
Vosges metamorphic units, UPb and
ages indicate a prominent event at 340335 Ma
(Fig. 5b). The monotonous unit seems to lack
Early Carboniferous zircon ages (Fig. 5b), but pre-
serves a
Ar biotite cooling age of 330 +
14 Ma (Boutin et al. 1995). Conversely, U Pb
zircon data in both the varied gneiss leucosomes
and restites indicate that HT metamorphism and
partial melting occurred from 340 to 335 Ma. In
the felsic granulite unit, zircon grains similarly
point to granulite-facies metamorphism at 345
335 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1999; Skrzypek et al.
2012a), although the peak pressure event may
have been slightly older. In the two high-grade
Ar ages between 340 and 325 Ma lie
close to U Pb zircon estimates, indicating rapid
cooling of this deep part of the crust. In the migma-
tite bodies, inherited zircon ages of c. 335 Ma indi-
cate that this domain was also affected by Early
Carboniferous metamorphism before being per-
vasively invaded by the Central Vosges Granite
(Tabaud 2012).
The synthesis of new and existing data allows
the structural succession for the different litho-
tectonic units of the Vosges Mountains to be con-
strained. The observations include the planar and
linear structures in sedimentary or metamorphic
Fig. 5. Summary of existing geochronological data for the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains. Cumulative probability
curves for (a) magmatic events and (b) metamorphic events with protolith ages for the Central Vosges metamorphic
units. The approximate time span of the different magmatic events is also indicated.
U zircon ages after
Skrzypek et al. (2012a). See Supplementary material for the full geochronological dataset.
lithologies and the anisotropy of magnetic suscepti-
bility data (AMS) in magmatic rocks (Fig. 6).
Northern Vosges
Northern succession. The dominant planar struc-
ture in the Bruche unit is the sedimentary bedding
. This bedding is initially affected by a gentle
kilometre-scale northsouth folding which gener-
ates S
planes variably dipping to the east or west
(Fig. 7). The folded S
is subsequently affected
by a moderate kilometre-scale NESW folding
locally associated with a spaced cleavage S
7). The NESW-striking cleavage S
steeply dips
to the SE and cross-cuts the S
bedding at a high
angle. The second deformation is responsible for
the main NESW trend of the Bruche synform
(see also Blanalt & Lillie
´1973; Wickert & Eisba-
cher 1988), but the final deformation pattern clearly
results from two quasi-orthogonal compression
events (Fig. 8a).
Magmatic suite. Folowing the results of Edel et al.
(2013), the AMS record in the magmatic suite shows
a clear distinction between the northern granitic
domain and the southern dioritic-granodioritic
domain (Fig. 7). In the northern granite, the mag-
netic foliation strikes NWSE and dips moderately
to the NE while the lineation trends north south
to NWSE with a variable plunge (Fig. 7). Sim-
ilar orientations are observed in the late granites
intruding the northern part. Conversely, the belts
of volcanic rocks, diorite and granodiorite preserve
magnetic structures which are nearly perpendic-
ular to those observed in the northern domain
(Fig. 8a). These are eastwest- to NE– SW-striking
foliations steeply dipping to the north or SE, and
NESW-trending lineations moderately plunging
to the SW (Fig. 7). All structures were acquired at
a magmatic state.
Southern succession. In the Steige unit, the original
sedimentary bedding S
is rarely visible and is
more commonly affected by upright east west
folds. The folding produces a subvertical east
west-schistosity S
, which is the dominant structure
in this unit (Fig. 7). In addition, a variably plung-
ing intersection lineation L
is observed on S
faces. It suggests that S
was folded, most likely
along a northsouth axis, before the development
of S
. At the contact with the granodiorite, mag-
matic veins are found parallel to the subvertical S
in spotted slates (Fig. 8a). A later deformation
event generates subhorizontal cleavage planes, and
the superposition of orthogonal fabrics gives rise
to a typical pencil cleavage.
In the Ville
´unit, the dominant metamorphic
foliation S
is most likely developed parallel to the
Fig. 6. Summary of the orientation and timing of the successive deformation events which developed across the Vosges
Fig. 7. Structural map of the Palaeozoic Vosges basement. Own observations and data from Edel et al. (2013)
in the magmatic suite, Kratinova
´et al. (2007) in the leucogranites, Kratinova
´et al. (2012) in the eastern anatectic
granite, Rey et al. (1992) in the western anatectic granite, Blumenfeld (1986) in the western migmatite and Schulmann
et al. (2009a) in the eastern migmatite. Rare fold axes in some units are omitted for clarity reasons. Lithologies
as in Figure 1.
sedimentary bedding (Ruhland & Bronner 1965).
The S
was probably originally subhorizontal, but
is now commonly affected by east west- to NE
SW-trending chevron-type folds. The folding gen-
erates eastwest- to NE–SW-striking S
that dip moderately to the SE or steeply to the
NW, and a NESW axial plane cleavage S
dipping to the SE (Fig. 7). A later vertical shorten-
ing is locally observed close to the contact with
the Steige unit.
At the southern margin of the Ville
´unit, a nar-
row zone of black schist with quartz augen
surrounded by sigmoidal mica-rich bands occurs.
The black schist preserves a subvertical NE
SW-striking schistosity cross-cut by subvertical
eastwest-striking shear planes that bear a subhori-
zontal lineation. This fabric superposition reflects
a dextral sense of shear which is compatible with
the latest kinematics of the LLFZ (e.g. Bouyalaoui
Central Vosges
Metamorphic units. The structural analysis of the
Central Vosges metamorphic units reveals the
superposition of three main structures. The oldest
structure corresponds to the metamorphic foliation
which is dominant on both sides of the Mg K
granitoid (Fig. 7). In all units, the S
strikes northsouth to NESW and dips steeply to
the NW in the eastern part and to the SE in the
western part, thereby defining a fan-like struc-
ture (Fig. 8b). In the varied gneiss, coarse-grained
quartzK-feldspar– garnet leucosomes are addi-
tionally found parallel to the S
The S
foliation is subsequently affected by
millimetre- to metre-scale recumbent folds that are
open to isoclinal. This heterogeneous vertical short-
ening event produces the new subhorizontal foli-
ation S
(Fig. 7). To the west of the granitoid, the
foliation is shallowly dipping to the south or
Fig. 8. Cross-sections illustrating structural relationships in the (a) Northern Vosges; (b) Central Vosges metamorphic
units; (c) Central Vosges; and (d) Southern Vosges. See Figure 1 for lithologies and location of the profiles.
SW, and is associated with concordant anatectic
veins. To the east of the granitoid, S
to the axial planar cleavage of north–south-trending
folds or, more commonly, to a continuous folia-
tion shallowly dipping to the west. There, the S
dominantly present at the contact between the
varied and monotonous gneiss units and gives to
this contact an apparent thrust geometry; no kin-
ematic indicators that could support the hypothesis
of an east-directed transport are, however, observed
(Fig. 8b).
To the east of the MgK granitoid, the monoto-
nous and varied gneiss units are weakly affected by
a subsequent metre- to kilometre-scale eastwest
upright folding (Fig. 7). This weak deformation
produces eastwest-striking S
planes variably
dipping to the north or south, and an incipient
eastwest axial plane cleavage S
steeply dipping
to the north (Fig. 8c).
Leucogranites. The structural record in the leuco-
granites intruding the Central Vosges metamorphic
units was detailed by Kratinova
´et al. (2007).
From north to south, the Thannenkirch and Bre
zouard bodies preserve a northern isotropic zone
and a southern anisotropic margin with a magmatic
to solid-state fabric, whereas the Bilstein granite
only exhibits a pervasive solid-state deformation
with S-C fabrics indicating sinistral shearing. Simi-
larly, the AMS record highlights kilometre-scale
domains of northsouth- to NW–SE-trending
lineations cross-cut by narrow zones of east west-
trending lineations and subvertical east west mag-
netic foliations (Figs 7 & 8c).
Western anatectic domain. The NESW-trending
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines Fault Zone (SMMFZ)
divides the Central Vosges into two distinct anatec-
tic domains (Fig. 1). The western domain comprises
a large migmatitic unit surrounded by the CVG. In
the western part of the migmatitic unit, Blumenfeld
(1986) documented a NESW-striking foliation
steeply dipping to the NW, whereas in the eastern
part the foliation shallowly dips to the north or NE
(Fig. 7).
To the north of the migmatitic unit, the Central
Vosges Granite preserves a magmatic fabric which
gradually evolves to a dominant solid-state folia-
tion towards the south (Rey et al. 1992). The foli-
ation is in continuity with the subhorizontal S
fabric observed in the southwestern part of the meta-
morphic units (Fig. 7). It shallowly dips towards the
migmatitic unit, that is, it is south- or SW-dipping in
the northern part and east- or north-dipping along
the eastern margin of the migmatite. Close to the
migmatitic unit, fault striations and other shear
indicators indicate a top-to-the-SW normal displa-
cement (see also Rey et al. 1992).
To the south of the migmatitic unit, AMS data in
the CVG reveal a dominant NE SW-striking mag-
netic foliation moderately dipping towards the SE or
NW (Fig. 7). Close to the migmatitic unit a few
lineations moderately plunge towards the NW,
while most lineations plunge at variable angles to
the east or NE in the rest of the area.
Eastern anatectic domain. The eastern anatectic
domain comprises relictual bodies of migmatitic
orthogneiss and metagreywacke surrounded by the
large CVG. The metamorphic and magmatic struc-
tures in the migmatitic units were detailed by Schul-
mann et al. (2009a). In the larger orthogneiss body
an eastwest-striking foliation steeply dipping to
the south or SW is preserved in the centre, but tends
to have a NWSE strike towards the margins (Fig.
7). The small orthogneiss body indicates a nearly
complete reworking of the original east west sub-
vertical fabric into shallowly south- or SW-dipping
The surrounding CVG preserves magmatic to
subsolidus structures to the north, but is isotropic
towards the south (Kratinova
´et al. 2012). To the
north, the magnetic foliation dips shallowly to the
south and is associated with a subhorizontal east
west lineation (Fig. 7). In the isotropic granite, mod-
erately east-dipping or shallowly south-dipping
magnetic foliations are observed. The magnetic
lineation trends north south and gently plunges to
the south or SE (Fig. 7).
MgK magmatism. Three distinct CVMgK grani-
toid bodies occur in the Central Vosges. The two
largest intrusions are found in the metamorphic
units and the CVG. They both preserve a subhori-
zontal K-feldspar fabric. The nearly orthogonal
AMS structures define an axial zone of NE SW
subvertical magnetic foliations and NESW linea-
tions cross-cut by east west- to NW SE-trending
lineations associated with subhorizontal foliations
(Fig. 7). Importantly, the NE SW magnetic struc-
tures are concordant with the S
foliation in the
metamorphic core.
A small body of CVMgK granitoid crops out at
the northern margin of the allochthonous sedimen-
tary units. There, numerous biotite-rich xenoliths
are found and point to a clear intrusive contact
with the sediments (Fig. 8c). In the granite, Krati-
´et al. (2012) showed that the magnetic foli-
ation is moderately dipping to the SW and that the
northsouth-trending lineation gently plunges to
the south or SE (Fig. 7).
Southern Vosges
Autochthonous units. The dominant structure of the
autochthonous units is the sedimentary bedding S
It is mostly visible in sediments of the Oderen unit
and only rarely in the dominantly volcanic Thann
unit. According to new data and observations sum-
marized by Krecher (2005), two distinct S
can be recognized. In the central part, the bedding
strikes NWSE and variably dips to the NE or
SW (Fig. 7). By contrast, narrow zones to the
north and to the south show a north south-striking
. In the northern part the S
is subhorizontal and
parallel to the roof of the underlying granite,
whereas it is moderately to steeply east-dipping
near the SVMgK complex (Fig. 7).
Allochthonous units. The main structure in the
allochthonous Markstein and Klippen Belt units is
the sedimentary bedding S
(see also Ruhland
1958; Petrini & Burg 1998). As in the autochtho-
nous units, two orthogonal trends are recognized.
A first upright folding event produces north south-
striking subvertical S
planes that are mostly pre-
served along the margin of the allochthonous
units. This domain of north south-striking orien-
tations coincides with the zone affected by contact
metamorphism and points to an influence of the
surrounding granitoids (Figs 4 & 7). Conversely,
the central part exhibits kilometre-scale asymmet-
rical folds associated with NW SE-striking S
planes variably dipping to the NE or SW (Fig. 7).
On both sides of the Klippen Belt, the consistently
NE-dipping S
suggests the presence of a thrust
of the allochthonous units over the autochthonous
units (Fig. 8d). The subvertical S
planes addition-
ally bear NWSE-trending subhorizontal striations,
indicating a mostly dextral sense of shear.
MgK magmatic complex. The SVMg–K complex
is characterized by a juxtaposition of orthogonal
structures. An earlier study of K-feldspar pheno-
crysts proposes that a dominant east–west to
NWSE subvertical foliation is cross-cut by
narrow corridors exhibiting a north south to NE
SW subvertical fabric (Blanchard 1978). Similarly,
new AMS data reveal the occurrence of orthogonal
fabrics. In the centre of the magmatic body a north
south-striking and steeply east- or west-dipping
magnetic foliation is associated with a north
south lineation steeply plunging to the north or
south (Fig. 7). By contrast, the eastern and western
parts of the granite exhibit east west foliations
steeply dipping to the south and subhorizontal
eastwest-trending lineations (Fig. 7). All struc-
tures were acquired at the magmatic state.
Geodynamic evolution
Early Palaeozoic: the pre-collisional history
The Vosges Mountains: a Gondwana-derived as-
semblage. The record of the Neoproterozoic Early
Palaeozoic evolution is cryptic (Fig. 9). Only the
metagranite found in the Klippen Belt testifies for
the presence of a Neoproterozoic substratum
(Skrzypek et al. 2012b). In addition, the Northern
Vosges Ville
´unit preserves Cambro-Ordovician
siliciclastic sediments with acid tuffs and quartzite
indicative of a shallow-marine basin (Fig. 2).
Together with the contemporaneous pelite and car-
bonate found in the northern Black Forest (Sittig
1965; Montenari & Servais 2000), they define a
succession which partly resembles that of the mar-
gin of the Gondwana continent. Similar deposits
are documented on other Late Proterozoic conti-
nental blocks which are commonly regarded as
peri-Gondwana crustal fragments (e.g. Chlupac
1993; Dore
´1994; Linnemann et al. 2000). The
Cambro-Ordovician protolith ages for granitic
pebbles in the Northern Vosges sediments (Do
et al. 1992) and for the felsic granulite (Skrzypek
et al. 2012a) also point to acid magmatism at c.
500 Ma (Fig. 9). This magmatic activity is com-
monly interpreted as the incipient break-up of the
northern Gondwana margin and the associated
opening of oceanic basins bounded by microconti-
nental blocks (e.g. Pin & Marini 1993; Crowley
et al. 2000; Scha
¨tz et al. 2002). All these arguments
confirm the Gondwana derivation of the entire
Vosges Mountains.
The Central Vosges metasedimentary units: depos-
its of the Saxothuringian Basin? The opening of
an Early Palaeozoic basin is indicated by the thick
monotonous and varied metasedimentary units.
The monotonous unit comprises psammitic sedi-
ments derived from a Cadomian source, and was
probably deposited in the Late Cambrian (Fig.
5b). The varied unit originates from the Late
OrdovicianEarly Silurian sedimentation of pelite-
sandstone derived from a Cambro-Ordovician
source, with scarce carbonate and basic magmatic
rocks (Fig. 5b).
This Early Palaeozoic sedimentary record bears
strong similarities to the lithostratigraphy of the
Saxothuringian domain, and especially to the Thur-
ingian facies. The Thuringian succession is charac-
terized by Ordovician sandy-pelitic sediments,
overlain by Silurian shales with intercalations of
carbonates and basic lavas (Falk et al. 1995). At
first glance, the monotonous unit can be seen as
the base of the Thuringian facies while the varied
unit resembles the overlying Silurian succession.
Both units could therefore be interpreted as proxi-
mal deposits of a Saxothuringian passive margin
sequence. Correlating such sediments from the
Vosges up to eastern Germany is possible, since
similar sedimentation ages are proposed for some
medium- to high-grade metasediments of the
central Black Forest (Kober et al. 2004).
Fig. 9. Synoptic view of the Palaeozoic sedimentation, magmatic, metamorphic and deformation events in the Variscan
Vosges Mountains. N, Northern Vosges; C, Central Vosges; S, Southern Vosges.
However, the structural and petrological data
demonstrate that the varied succession was not
originally located above the monotonous sediments.
The varied unit presently rests over the monotonous
unit, but shows a higher metamorphic overprint
(Fig. 8b). It argues for a separate evolution of the
two units, which should originate from different
sedimentation areas. The monotonous unit was
deposited close to a Neoproterozoic and Cadomian
substratum which is also known to underlie the
monotonous unit in the Bohemian Massif (e.g.
Fritz 1996; Friedl et al. 2004; Schulmann et al.
2005). Conversely, the varied unit is related to the
erosion of a Cambro-Ordovician substratum which
is more abundant in the northern part of the peri-
Gondwanan continental blocks (e.g. Kro
¨ner et al.
2000b; Kemnitz et al. 2002). The varied unit is
therefore interpreted as a sedimentary succession
from the northern part of the Saxothuringian
Basin. The monotonous unit was probably deposited
further south, and its link with the Saxothuringian
Basin is less clear (Fig. 10a).
The Northern succession (Northern Vosges): depos-
its of the Rhenohercynian Basin? In the North-
ern succession, the oldest sediments correspond
to Middle Devonian coastal conglomerate and
sandstone with a few reef limestones (Fig. 2). In
addition, pebbles point to the erosion of a Cambro-
Ordovician granitic substratum (Do
¨rr et al. 1992)
which is also found further to the north in the Saar
Basin (Sommermann 1993). The substratum of the
Saar Basin is overlain by thick Middle Upper
Devonian platform carbonate (Hering & Zimmerle
1976). These scarce data indicate the presence of
a Devonian sedimentary basin in the northernmost
part of the Vosges. The coarse-grained character
of the first sediments suggests that a probable
episode of Early Devonian emersion was followed
by marine transgression (Fig. 9). The correlation
with the Middle Devonian deposits in the Saar
Basin additionally points to a relatively shallow-
marine platform environment which may be
slightly deepening towards the north (Fig. 10a, b).
Nearly similar Devonian siliciclastic and/or car-
bonated sediments are documented in the Rhenish
Massif (Franke 1995) in SW England (Leveridge
& Hartley 2006) or Moravia (Hladil et al. 1999).
These successions are interpreted as the filling of
the Rhenohercynian Basin which started to open in
the Early Devonian (e.g. Clark et al. 1998). By con-
trast, Devonian black shales or cherts in both the
Thuringian and Bavarian facies of the Saxothurin-
gian Basin indicate a deeper sedimentary envi-
ronment (Falk et al. 1995). The Middle Upper
Devonian record of the Northern succession is
therefore correlated with that of the Rhenohercynian
Basin. In this view, the Northern succession could
represent a proximal part of the southern margin
of this basin (Fig. 10a c).
Late Devonian: onset of collision
Across the European Variscan Belt, multiple argu-
ments testify for the activity of subduction zones
during the Late Devonian (e.g. Matte 1998). In the
Vosges Mountains, evidence for a subduction
setting is represented by HP granulite-facies rocks
which were probably metamorphosed during Late
DevonianEarly Carboniferous (Skrzypek et al.
2012a) time and by the remnants of a Late Devonian
back-arc basin in the Southern Vosges (Skrzypek
et al. 2012b).
Subduction of the northern Saxothuringian pas-
sive margin. In the Central Vosges metamorphic
units, the contrasted sedimentological records and
detrital zircon ages are used to propose that the
monotonous and varied gneiss protoliths were
deposited in different areas (Figs 2 & 5b). In addi-
tion, petrological data reveal that the monotonous
gneiss only reached peak amphibolite-facies con-
ditions, whereas the felsic granulite and varied
gneiss units underwent HP granulite-facies meta-
morphism (Fig. 4c).
HP granulite-facies metamorphism is a peculiar
feature of the European Variscides (e.g. Pin & Viel-
zeuf 1988) and its significance has been explored by
various studies (e.g. Kro
¨ner et al. 2000a; O’Brien &
¨tzler 2003; see also Kotokova
´2007 for a review).
Based on geochronological and geochemical argu-
ments, Janous
ˇek et al. (2004) proposed that the
felsic granulites which are now found in the Molda-
nubian domain represent metamorphosed and par-
tially molten equivalents of Ordovician granites
located in the Saxothuringian domain (Fichtelge-
birge). It was integrated in a tectonic model where
the HP granulite-facies rocks are interpreted as a
part of continental crust which was subducted
below the Moldanubian crust (Guy et al. 2011;
Chopin et al. 2012). Such a model additionally
suggests that the Mg K granitoids frequently
associated with HP granulites are the products of
mixing between melt lost from the felsic granulite
and the overlying lithospheric mantle (Janous
ˇek &
Holub 2007; Lexa et al. 2011).
The striking lithological, petrological and geo-
chemical similarities between the Central Vosges
metamorphic units and rocks of the Bohemian
Massif argue for an identical tectonic scenario for
both regions. In the Bohemian Massif, the timing
and polarity of the SE-directed Saxothuringian sub-
duction is well constrained thanks to numerous ages
reflecting HP metamorphism at c. 380 Ma (Gebauer
& Gru
¨nenfelder 1979; Stosch & Lugmair 1990;
Beard et al. 1995) and to Late Devonian flysch
Fig. 10. Schematic cross-sections illustrating the Palaeozoic evolution of the different parts forming the present-day
Vosges Mountains. This view tries to integrate all lithological, structural, petrological and geochronological data.
Reconstructions for: (a) Middle Devonian (c. 380 Ma); (b) Late Devonian (c. 360 Ma); (c) Tournaisian (c. 350 Ma);
(d) lower Visean (c. 340 Ma); (e) middle Visean (335 330 Ma); and (f) late Lower Carboniferous (330–320 Ma). No
horizontal scale.
sedimentation followed by the NW-directed empla-
cement of high-grade nappes in the Saxothuringian
domain (e.g. Franke 1984). The genesis of the
Central Vosges orogenic root is therefore explained
by the SE-directed continental subduction of a
Saxothuringian-type passive margin below the Mol-
danubian upper plate (Fig. 10).
In this view, the present-day Moldanubian
domain is interpreted as a mixture of a Saxothurin-
gian allochthonous continental portion and the
autochthonous Moldanubian upper plate (see also
Chopin et al. 2012). This leaves the question regard-
ing the nature of the Moldanubian upper plate
before continental subduction to be resolved. In
the Bohemian Massif, the Moldanubian crust is
thought to involve a Neoproterozoic substratum
(e.g. Friedl et al. 2004) and Early Palaeozoic back-
arc sediments separated from the Saxothurigian
Basin by the Tepla
´-Barrandian domain (e.g. Schul-
mann et al. 2009b). In the case of the Vosges, the
monotonous unit is considered as the upper-plate
material and probably rests on a Neoproterozoic
substratum similar to that found in the Klippen Belt
(Fig. 10a). The parallel between both massifs indi-
cates that the Moldanubian upper plate represents
the southern margin of the Saxothurigian Basin
(Fig. 10a), but contains a varying amount of Tepla
Barrandian-type material between the Saxothurin-
gian Basin and the Neoproterozoic substratum.
The SaxothuringianMoldanubian (Tepla
´) suture
in the Vosges Mountains. Invoking the subduction
of the northern Saxothuringian passive margin
requires the continuation of the Saxothuringian–
Moldanubian (Tepla
´) suture to be identified within
the Vosges Mountains. This suture was classically
defined along the east west LalayeLubine Fault
Zone (Fluck et al. 1991), although it is devoid of
any ophiolitic remnants in the Vosges Mountains
as well as in the neighbouring Black Forest. Sev-
eral arguments are presented here to challenge this
earlier interpretation.
Placing a suture along the LLFZ implies that the
Southern succession of the Northern Vosges (Steige
and Ville
´units) represents material from the Sax-
othuringian lower plate. Sediments involved in
oceanic or continental subduction are expected to
record pressure-dominated metamorphism coeval
with HP conditions in the deeply subducted material
(e.g. Maruyama & Liou 1988). However, such fea-
tures are incompatible with the PTdefor-
mationtime record in the Steige and Ville
These units show a continuous Barrovian meta-
morphic gradient reaching garnet grade towards
the south (Fig. 4b) and kyanite grade if mica
schists occurring in the northern Black Forest are
considered (Wickert et al. 1990). The peak meta-
morphic assemblages are developed in an originally
subhorizontal foliation which was transposed much
later into a subvertical cleavage during Early Car-
boniferous northsouth shortening (Fig. 6). In
addition, metamorphic ages of 345 340 Ma in
phyllite and mica schist (Clauer & Bonhomme
1970; unpublished electron microprobe monazite
ages) are similar to those obtained in the deep oro-
genic root (Fig. 5b). All data indicate that the
Southern succession represents a normal sequence
metamorphosed along a MP/MT gradient during
the Early Carboniferous.
From a structural point of view, the earliest
fabrics observed in the Central Vosges strike NE
SW (Fig. 7) and are parallel to the c. 60 km-long
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines Fault Zone (Fig. 1). The
consistent orientation of these structures over sev-
eral tens of kilometres indicates a NW SE bulk
shortening direction, which is in contradiction with
the eastwest strike of the LLFZ. Several major
Variscan suture zones are also characterized by a
thrust of high-grade units over less-metamorphosed
rocks, producing inverted metamorphic sequences
(e.g. Pitra et al. 2010). For the Vosges Mountains,
the structural observations do not support a thrust
of the medium-grade monotonous gneiss unit over
the Southern succession, as already emphasized
by Kossmat (1927).
To summarize, the SaxothuringianMoldanu-
bian (Tepla
´) suture is not believed to lie along
the LLFZ. The Southern succession should be
regarded as autochthonous sediments resting on
the Moldanubian upper plate. Given that the depo-
sition age of the Southern succession is older than
that of the more metamorphosed monotonous unit
(although poorly constrained), the Southern suc-
cesion could not conformably overlay the monoto-
nous unit sediments. Instead, it should correspond
to a thin piece of Tepla
´-Barrandian-type material
located at the northern edge of the Moldanubian
upper plate. This interpretation is supported by the
lithological similarities between the Southern suc-
cession and the Tepla
´-Barrandian deposits of the
Bohemian Massif (Fig. 2). The metamorphism of
the Southern succession is explained by moderate
crustal thickening during the early Lower Carbon-
iferous (Fig. 10ac). According to this interpret-
ation, the SaxothuringianMoldanubian suture
should lie to the north of the LLFZ. Edel & Schul-
mann (2009) consider that the Northern succession
(Bruche) also belongs to the Tepla
domain and trace the suture to the north of the pre-
sently exposed Vosges basement. However, the
present work prefers to link the Northern succession
with deposits of the Rhenohercynian Basin. The
SaxothuringianMoldanubian suture is therefore
thought to lie within the Northern Vosges, where
it is presently obliterated by the magmatic suite
(Figs 10 & 11).
Southern Vosges: back-arc basin opening. The
Southern Vosges Klippen Belt testifies for the
opening of a Late Devonian back-arc basin due to
the subduction of an Early Palaeozoic oceanic
domain (Fig. 10b). The origin of this back-arc
spreading through the SE-directed closure of the
Saxothuringian basin or the north-directed closure
of the Palaeotethys Ocean is still unclear (Skrzypek
et al. 2012b). The arguments in favour of the first
hypothesis involve the coeval timing of the Sax-
othuringian (or Rheic) subduction (Stampfli et al.
2013) and the doubtful existence of an oceanic
domain to the south according to palaeontological
data (e.g. Paris & Robardet 1990). Arguments for
the second hypothesis include the east–west-
trending structures of the basin (Fig. 7), which
could indicate inversion controlled by its initial
shape (e.g. Oncken et al. 1999) acquired during
northsouth opening, and the correlation with
the neighbouring southern Black Forest. There,
the BadenweilerLenzkirch zone is thought to
reflect the north-directed subduction of a southern
oceanic domain (Loeschke et al. 1998).
A correlation with the Bre
´venne unit located
in the NE French Massif Central faces the same dua-
listic view. There, the occurrence of HP meta-
morphic rocks (‘Monts du Lyonnais’) and relicts
of a Late Devonian back-arc basin (‘Bre
was interpreted as a result of the north-directed
subduction of a southern oceanic domain (Larde-
aux et al. 2001). However, this idea is seriously
challenged by structural (Leloix et al. 1999) and
Fig. 11. Position of the Vosges Mountains in the European Variscan Belt. (a) Map of the Variscan litho-tectonic
domains (after Edel & Schulmann 2009) and enlarged view of the proposed subdivisions in the Vosges Mountains
(inset). Kr., Kraichgau; T-B., Tepla
´-Barrandian blocks. (b) Schematic view showing the proposed subdivisions in the
Vosges Mountains and neighbouring massifs.
geochronological (Faure et al. 2008) data which
indicate a general north-vergence of the inverted
back-arc basin, and no temporal link between HP
metamorphism and back-arc spreading. These
observations alternatively support the origin of the
Late Devonian Bre
´venne back-arc due to the south-
directed subduction of the Rheic Ocean (e.g. Faure
et al. 2005).
Early Lower Carboniferous: polyphase
collisional tectonics
Eastwest shortening: Saxothuringian–Moldanu-
bian collision. The earliest fabric observed in the
Vosges metamorphic units is the NE SW subverti-
cal S
foliation (Fig. 7). The S
foliation is con-
nected with sillimanite growth after kyanite in
both the felsic granulite and varied gneiss (Fig.
4c). By contrast, the metamorphic conditions of S
are not known for the monotonous unit, but garnet-
staurolite relicts point to a prograde evolution (Rey
et al. 1992). The observations therefore indicate
a vertical upwards flow of the lower crust and a
possibly contemporaneous downwards flow of the
middle crust. Because the NE SW fabrics are
shared by upper and lower plate rocks along a ver-
tical section of at least 10 km (from 8 kbar to at
least 12 kbar; Fig. 4c) and along a horizontal
section of c. 60 km (Fig. 7), the associated NW
SE to eastwest shortening is thought to be nearly
parallel to the compression direction at that time,
and is tentatively ascribed to the compression
imposed by the SE-directed subduction of the
Saxothuringian passive margin (Fig. 10ac).
The subvertical S
foliation is subsequently
transposed into a subhorizontal S
fabric (Fig. 6).
The metamorphism associated with S
to a pervasive LP/HT overprint affecting all units
(Rey et al. 1989; Latouche et al. 1992). Due to its
high-temperature character the metamorphic event
is correlated with zircon ages of 340335 Ma that
are repeatedly obtained in metamorphic rocks
(Fig. 5b), especially in leucosomes parallel to S
in the varied gneiss (Schaltegger et al. 1999). The
combined observations are interpreted as a wide-
spread vertical shortening of the metamorphic
units which were previously juxtaposed at a mid-
crustal depth. This event is responsible for the
fan-like structure of the root and the apparent
thrust of the HP/HT units over the monotonous
unit (Fig. 8b), formerly interpreted as a result of
nappe tectonics (Fluck et al. 1991). The localized
vertical shortening may be due to a continuous
accumulation of allochthonous felsic material at
the base of the crust, as is proposed for the duc-
tile thinning mechanism developed in the Fran-
ciscan complex (Ring & Brandon 1999). This
event still results from the collision between the
Saxothuringian and Moldanubian continental mar-
gins (Fig. 10d).
Northsouth shortening: subduction of the Rheno-
hercynian Basin and Gondwana indentation. The
Vosges Mountains experienced a switch from
eastwest to north–south shortening (Fig. 6) at c.
340 Ma. The change in the shortening direction is
probably best reflected by the structural record in
the MgK granitoids. These bodies were emplaced
between 340 and 332 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1996;
Schulmann et al. 2002), and systematically preserve
two orthogonal fabric sets (Fig. 7). Bulk north
south shortening is also indicated by the eastwest
to NESW subvertical cleavage planes devel-
oped in the Northern Vosges, and by the NW
SE-trending upright folds in the Southern Vosges
sedimentary units (Fig. 7). In addition, east west
upright folding of the subhorizontal S
foliation is
observed in the eastern part of the metamorphic
units (Fig. 6). The south-vergent structures devel-
oped in the Lower Carboniferous turbiditic sedi-
ments of the southern Black Forest (Hann &
Sawatzki 1998) also testify for a general north
south shortening (Fig. 6).
In the Northern Vosges, the Lower Carbonifer-
ous flysch-type sedimentation indicates tectonic
instabilities in the basin. This deformation event
culminates with the middle Visean sedimentary
hiatus and the coeval emplacement during trans-
tension of the NESW-trending magmatic arc at
335330 Ma (Altherr et al. 2000; Edel et al. 2013).
Evidence for a contemporaneous south-directed
subduction of the Rhenohercynian passive margin
(Holder & Leveridge 1986) and associated arc mag-
matism in the Mid-German Crystalline Rise
(MGCR; Anthes & Reischmann 2001) is described
across the European Variscan Belt. Consequently,
the magmatic suite of the Northern Vosges is inter-
preted as a prolongation of the MGCR and its
emplacement is ascribed to the south-directed sub-
duction of the Rhenohercynian Basin (Fig. 10e).
The Lower Carboniferous magmatic arc intrudes
a sedimentary succession of Rhenohercynian affi-
nity to the north, and Early Palaeozoic metasedi-
ments of Tepla
´-Barrandian affinity to the south.
This close juxtaposition of contrasted lithologies
is an additional argument for tracing the former
´suture at the place of the magmatic suite.
Such a discontinuity could have controlled the intru-
sion of the NESW-trending magmatic arc in the
upper plate.
The observed tectonic switch could be explained
by a rigid block rotation, since palaeomagnetic data
document a c. 808anticlockwise rotation of the
Vosges Mountains during the Early Carboniferous
(Edel et al. 2013). However, the structural data indi-
cate a bulk northsouth shortening in present-day
coordinates. In addition, deformation-age relation-
ships reveal that the eastwest structures are pro-
gressively younger towards the north (Fig. 6).
These data are in good agreement with the idea of
a northwards indentation of Gondwana which was
already invoked to explain the northsouth Car-
boniferous shortening in the European Variscan
Belt (Vollbrecht et al. 1989). A similar north- to
NW-directed shortening due to the indentation of
the Brunovistulian microcontinent is also recorded
in other parts of the Moldanubian domain (SE
Bohemian Massif, Schulmann et al. 2005; Sudetes,
Chopin et al. 2012). The northsouth shortening
accounts for the general south-verging structures
observed in the southern part of the Variscan
orogen, and especially in the Southern Vosges and
Black Forest (Wickert & Eisbacher 1988; Eisbacher
et al. 1989; Fig. 10e).
Late Lower Carboniferous: orogenic collapse
Detachment systems in the Central Vosges. The
northsouth shortening is followed by north
south extension at c. 330320 Ma (Fig. 6). It is
revealed by normal faulting in the uppermost
crust, by the transtensional emplacement of the
Northern Vosges magmatic suite (Edel et al. 2013)
and by the development of detachment zones in
the middle crust. The western part of the CVG
preserves evidence for the activity of a late Lower
Carboniferous SW- to south-directed detachment
system (see also Rey et al. 1991). At the same
time, the eastern CVG is emplaced along a SE- to
south-directed detachment zone (Schulmann et al.
2009a) while the leucogranites are emplaced
under a transtensional regime (Kratinova
´et al.
2007). All these structural features point to synmag-
matic south-directed extensional tectonics during
the late Lower Carboniferous (Fig. 10f ).
Significance of the Lalaye Lubine Fault: a predic-
tion of the model. The LLFZ is a subvertical shear
zone separating greenschist- to amphibolite-facies
phyllite from partly migmatitic paragneiss, and
documents Upper Carboniferous(?) dextral strike-
slip (Fig. 1). It was previously interpreted as a
south-dipping suture zone (e.g. Fluck et al. 1991),
but several arguments challenge this view. Alter-
natively, it is proposed that the LLFZ marks
the boundary between metasediments of Tepla
Barrandian affinity (Southern succession) and meta-
sediments originally deposited on the Moldanubian
upper plate (monotonous gneiss unit). The Tepla
BarrandianMoldanubian boundary in the central
Bohemian Massif corresponds to a subvertical
shear zone hosting sheared granitoids and docu-
menting a significant normal movement of the
´-Barrandian relative to the Moldanubian
domain (e.g. Scheuvens & Zulauf 2000). In the
NE Bohemian Massif, this presumed boundary cor-
responds to a dextral strike-slip zone separating
greenschist- to amphibolite-facies rocks from mig-
matitic orthogneiss, but it is thought to have pre-
viously operated as a detachment fault (Mazur
et al. 2005; Chopin et al. 2012).
The LLFZ has numerous features in common
with the Tepla
´-BarrandianMoldanubian boundary
described in the Bohemian Massif. The presence
of sheared granitoids along the eastern prolongation
of the LLFZ in the Black Forest (Baden Baden
Fault Zone, Wickert et al. 1990) adds to this list of
similarities. Moreover, rocks located to the north
of the LalayeLubine and Baden–Baden fault
zones represent a continuous metamorphic section
reaching kyanite grade, while the monotonous
gneiss located to the south documents peak upper-
amphibolite facies conditions (Fig. 4c). The rela-
tively small metamorphic gap suggests that the
´units could have been originally
located above the monotonous gneiss unit. Conse-
quently, it is speculated that the LLFZ represents a
former north-directed detachment system (Fig.
10e). By analogy with the Bohemian Massif, the
´units are regarded as the detached
upper crust of Tepla
´-Barrandian affinity. This inter-
pretation is a prediction of the present model, and
further work should try to recognize the possible
earlier detachment structures that did not suffer
the later and pervasive strike-slip reactivation of
the LLFZ (e.g. Bouyalaoui 1992).
Driving mechanisms for orogenic collapse. The
late Lower Carboniferous tectonic evolution was
dominated by the activity of detachment systems.
They mostly developed in the upper to middle
crust, but left the orogenic lower crust unaffected
(Fig. 6). It indicates that lower crustal flow (e.g.
Vanderhaeghe et al. 1999) was not a driving mech-
anism for orogenic collapse in the case of the
Vosges Mountains.
The development of a detachment zone dur-
ing the emplacement of the CVG points to a role
of the thermal structure of the crust. During exten-
sion the zone of anatexis developed above deep
crustal rocks which show no signs of melting (Fig.
10f), suggesting that the heat source was instead
located at a mid-crustal level. Simulations of the
geotherm relaxation show that the large and highly
radioactive Central Vosges MgK granitoids
(e.g. Rothe
´1962) emplaced in the middle crust at
c. 340 Ma (Schaltegger et al. 1996) can trigger
partial melting of the surrounding rocks after a
period of c. 10 Ma, that is, precisely when the
CVG was emplaced (Tabaud 2012). Conversely,
the shallower Southern Vosges MgK granitoids
are not expected to generate a sufficient perturbation
of the geotherm, since radiogenic heat production
is strongly dependent on the depth of radioactive
rocks in the vertical column (e.g. McLaren et al.
1999). Such a contrast emphasizes the influence of
radioactive heat production on the late-orogenic tec-
tonic evolution. Accordingly, detachments in the
Central Vosges are interpreted to be activated by a
thermal weakening of the middle orogenic crust
(Tabaud 2012).
The northsouth extension can also be corre-
lated with the larger-scale Variscan evolution.
Arc-type magmatism at 335330 Ma in the North-
ern Vosges is thought to reflect the climax of the
Rhenohercynian subduction (Edel et al. 2013).
Such a south-directed subduction is likely to drive
extension in the back-arc region, that is, precisely
in the Central Vosges (Fig. 10f). Different direc-
tions of post-thickening extension have been docu-
mented in the European Variscan Belt (Burg et al.
1994), but this event can be correlated with the
Middle Carboniferous NESW extension and abun-
dant plutonism which are recognized in the French
Massif Central (Faure 1995). The analogy with a
Cordilleran metamorphic core complex setting
(e.g. Coney & Harms 1984) suggests that the late
Lower Carboniferous extension reflects an interplay
between extensive melting of the middle orogenic
crust and far-field forces.
The zonation of the Palaeozoic Vosges Mountains is
described considering that the major Variscan litho-
tectonic domains: (1) have a variable width along
the orogenic belt, and (2) can be a heterogeneous
mixture of units with different affinities.
Northern Vosges. The DevonianCarbonifer-
ous Northern succession shows a Rhenohercy-
nian affinity and is considered as deposits from
the southern margin of the Rhenohercynian
basin. It behaved as a fore-arc region during
the late Lower Carboniferous south-directed
subduction of the Rhenohercynian basin. The
Early Palaeozoic Southern succession is a thin
piece of Tepla
´-Barrandian affinity which orig-
inally belonged to the northern edge of the Mol-
danubian upper plate. The contrasting Northern
and Southern successions are intruded by a
Lower Carboniferous magmatic arc correlated
with the Mid-German Crystalline Rise. The mag-
matic arc is thought to exploit a former major
discontinuity: the SaxothuringianMoldanubian
´) suture. A prediction of the model is that
the Southern succession was detached from the
Moldanubian upper plate along the Lalaye
Lubine Fault Zone before dextral strike-slip
Central Vosges. The similarities to the SE
Bohemian Massif support the Moldanubian affi-
nity of the Central Vosges. However, the oroge-
nic root is described as a polydeformed and
polymetamorphosed assemblage of autochtho-
nous and allochthonous crustal fragments. The
high-grade felsic granulite and varied units are
considered as a portion of the northern Saxothur-
ingian passive margin, whereas the medium-
grade monotonous unit belongs to the Moldanu-
bian crust. The juxtaposition of units is ascribed
to the early Lower Carboniferous SE-directed
continental subduction of the Saxothuringian
passive margin below the Moldanubian upper
plate. The inferred nappe structure of the cen-
tral Black Forest needs to be reinvestigated to
support the correlation between the Vosges and
the Bohemian Massif.
Southern Vosges. The Southern Vosges
Klippen Belt testifies for the opening of a Late
Devonian back-arc basin. It can be related to
the north- or south-directed subduction of a
surrounding oceanic domain; the neighbouring
massifs provide arguments for both views. The
Southern Vosges later evolved as a detached
upper part of the Moldanubian crust. Correla-
tions with similar Upper DevonianLower Car-
boniferous lithologies in the NE Massif Central
and the southern Black Forest are manifest, but
they leave unresolved questions regarding the
nature of the basement towards the south.
E. Skrzypek and A-S. Tabaud benefited from funding by
BRGM and Re
´gion Alsace. E. Skrzypek was additionally
granted a Fellowship from the Polish Government thanks
to S. Mazur and a Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Japan
Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) thanks to
T. Hirajima and T. Kawakami. Field work and analyses
were supported by the ‘Programme de la carte ge
de France’ thanks to P. Rossi, and by the ‘Re
´rentiel ge
logique de la France’ programme thanks to S. Gabalda.
R. Montigny offered critical comments on previous geo-
chronological data. J.-M. Lardeaux, M. Faure and J. R.
´nez Catala
´n provided valuable corrections and
sharp comments on the speculative parts of the manu-
script. The authors would like to thank these persons and
institutions for their kind help and support.
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ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Three types of cumulate are distinguished in gabbro-dioritic orthocumulates in the plutonic complex on the northern border of the Ballons massif. They underwent, during their crystallization, a large increase in water pressure, generating a resorption of the primary cumulus association and a development of intercumulus amphibole and biotite. This evolution of the cumulates, together with that seen in the dolerite-microdiorite-monzodiorite-monzonite association of the neighbouring plutonic rocks, is interpreted in terms of fractional crystallization of a basaltic tholeiitic magma which, at a middle level in the crust, underwent a sialic contamination (particularly H2O and K). This crustal participation is related to a diastrophism occurring contemporaneously with the crystallization of the plutonic complex, as shown by abundant magmatic breccias. Representative analyses of pyroxenes (6) and amphiboles (19) are given. -R.A.H.
After a discussion of the southern part of the Champ-du-Feu massif, based on a recently prepared geologic map, the author presents a pétrographie and chemical study of the formations of that area. Contact metamorphism, granitization and especially dioritization are described and discussed. Most of the diorites seem to be derived from former sediments (limestones and sandy shales ) and volcanic (mainly pyro-clastic) rocks. Also discussed are the characteristics and petrogenesis of various granites, and the author attempts to determine the limit between the Silurian and middle Devonian.