U-Pb ZIRCON DATING OF MIDDLE EOCENE CLASTIC ROCKS FROM THE GERCUS MOLASSE, NE IRAQ: NEW CONSTRAINTS ON THEIR PROVENANCE, AND TECTONIC EVOLUTION
The provenance of Middle Eocene clastic rock from the Gercus Molasse, NE Iraq was determined by detrital zircon (DZ) U-Pb geochronology. The Gercus Molasse in the Iraqi segment of the north-eastern Zagros Thrust Zone provides an ideal example of foreland system evolution with respect to the transition from passive margin to the accretionary complex terrene-flexural foreland basins. The DZ U-Pb age spectra from the Gercus Molasse suggest that the foreland sediments either influx from multiple provenances or are the result of recycling from the accretionary complex terrane. During pre-accretion, however, the radiolarite basin (Qulqula Radiolarite, 221 Ma) located along Arabian passive margin likely acted as an intermediate sediment repository for most or all of the DZ. Representative DZ U-Pb measurements revealed that the Gercus clastic rocks fall into several separable age population ranges of 92-102 (Albian-Cenomanian), 221 (Upper Triassic), 395-511 (Cambrian), 570- 645 (Neoproterozoic), 1111 (Mesoproterozoic), and lesser numbers of Paleoproterozoic (1622-1991 Ma) ages. The source of Proterozoic detrital Zircons is enigmatic; the age peaks at 1.1, 1.5, 1.6, and 1.9 Ga (Proterozoic) does not correspond to any known outcrops of Precambrian rocks in Iraq, and it may be useful to continue to search for such basement. The detrital zircons with age populations at 0.63–0.86 Ga probably originated from the Arabian-Nubian Shield. The age peak at 0.55 Ga correlates with Cadomian Magmatism reported from north Gondwana. The age peaks at ~0.4 Ga is interpreted to represent Gondwana rifting and the opening of Paleotethys. The youngest ages populations at 93 Ma indicate that fraction of DZ were transported directly from the contemporaneously active magmatic arc (Zagros Ophiolite segments). The paleogeography and tectonic evolution of the Neogene Zagros foreland basin were reconstructed and divided into two tectonic stages. The early stage is defined by the Campanian accreted terranes (i.e. orogenic wedge) form loads sufficient to produce flexural basin with a deepest part is situated next to the tip of the loads. This flexural basin is filled by the flysch clastics of the Maastrichtian– Early Eocene (i.e. referred to by the Tanjero-Kolosh flysch sequence). The late stage is marked by a synchronized modification of the clastics fill of the basin and changes in dip directions to compensate for the reduction of the load by both erosion and extension and the basin, therefore, was sealed by a shallowing upwards depositional sequence ending with the terrestrial Gercus Formation.