Superposed sedimentary and tectonic block-in-matrix fabrics in a subducted serpentinite mélange (High-pressure zermatt saas ophiolite, western alps)

Paola Tartarotti, Sara Guerini, Francesca Rotondo, Andrea Festa, Gianni Balestro, Gray E. Bebout, Enrico Cannaò, Gabe S. Epstein, Marco Scambelluri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The primary stratigraphic fabric of a chaotic rock unit in the Zermatt Saas ophiolite of the Western Alps was reworked by a polyphase Alpine tectonic deformation. Multiscalar structural criteria demonstrate that this unit was deformed by two ductile subduction-related phases followed by brittle-ductile then brittle deformation. Deformation partitioning operated at various scales, leaving relatively unstrained rock domains preserving internal texture, organization, and composition. During subduction, ductile deformation involved stretching, boudinage, and simultaneous folding of the primary stratigraphic succession. This deformation is particularly well-documented in alternating layers showing contrasting deformation style, such as carbonate-rich rocks and turbiditic serpentinite metasandstones. During collision and exhumation, deformation enhanced the boudinaged horizons and blocks, giving rise to spherical to lozenge-shaped blocks embedded in a carbonate-rich matrix. Structural criteria allow the recognition of two main domains within the chaotic rock unit, one attributable to original broken formations reflecting turbiditic sedimentation, the other ascribable to an original sedimentary mélange. The envisaged geodynamic setting for the formation of the protoliths is the Jurassic Ligurian-Piedmont ocean basin floored by mostly serpentinized peridotites, intensely tectonized by extensional faults that triggered mass transport processes and turbiditic sedimentation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number358
JournalGeosciences (Switzerland)
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Broken formation
  • Ophiolite
  • Sedimentary mélange
  • Turbidite
  • Zermatt Saas

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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