GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, 52, 1, BRATISLAVA, FEBRUARY 2001
41 — 47
LATE CRETACEOUS AGE OF THE ROCHOVCE GRANITE,
WESTERN CARPATHIANS, CONSTRAINED BY U-Pb
SINGLE-ZIRCON DATING IN COMBINATION WITH
, PAVEL UHER
, MARIAN JANÁK
, DUŠAN PLAŠIENKA
and MILAN KOHÚT
Max-Planck-Institut für Chemie, Abt. Geochemie, Postfach 3060, D-55020 Mainz, Germany
Geological Institute, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská 9, 842 26 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Dionýz Štúr State Institute of Geology, Mlynská dolina 1, 817 04 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
(Manuscript received June 9, 2000; accepted in revised form December 12, 2000)
Abstract: The Rochovce Granite – a subsurface intrusion in the southeastern part of the Veporic Unit, has been dated
by means of the single zircon U-Pb method. The dated sample represents coarse-grained biotite monzogranite of the first
intrusive phase. The morphology and composition of the zircon crystals were controlled by cathodoluminescence and
electron microprobe analysis. The resulting U-Pb data plot on a discordia line with a lower intercept age of 75.6 ± 1.1 Ma,
and an upper intercept age of 1203 ± 500 Ma. The lower intercept age is interpreted as the crystallization age of the
Rochovce Granite. Cathodoluminescence imaging excludes the presence of inherited cores or disturbing inclusions in
the dated zircons. The intrusion and emplacement of the Rochovce Granite were most likely accomplished by NE-
dipping, low-angle extensional normal faults, developed along the NW-SE sector of the Lubeník line at the contact
between the Veporicum and Gemericum. The new U-Pb single-zircon data prove the Late Cretaceous age of the Rochovce
Granite and provide a further argument to recognize Cretaceous granite magmatism in the Western Carpathians.
Key words: Cretaceous orogeny, Western Carpathians, Rochovce Granite, single zircon U-Pb dating, cathodoluminescence
The Rochovce Granite is a unique intrusion related to Alpine
orogenic events in the Western Carpathians. This subsurface
intrusion occurs in the southeastern part of the Veporic Unit
along the contact with the overlying Gemeric Unit. The hid-
den granite body was discovered by the drill-hole KV-3 (Kli-
nec et al. 1980), situated in the centre of a magnetic anomaly
(Filo et al. 1974). Former geochronological investigations
(Hraško et al. 1999) provided a Late Cretaceous (82 ± 1 Ma)
age for the Rochovce Granite by conventional U-Pb dating of
several zircon fractions. However, some authors (Cambel et
al. 1989, 1990), also considered an older – Late Paleozoic
age for this granite.
This contribution presents the first single zircon U-Pb data
from the Rochovce Granite. To exclude possible contamina-
tion due to the presence of inherited components, morpholo-
gy and composition of the investigated zircon crystals were
controlled by cathodoluminescence (CL) and electron micro-
probe analysis. The resulting age determination supports
Late Cretaceous crystallization of the Rochovce Granite that
is discussed with regard to Cretaceous orogenic cycle in the
The Rochovce Granite is subsurface intrusion in the south-
eastern part of the Veporic Unit along the contact with the
overlying Gemeric Unit (Fig. 1). The contact between the
Veporic and Gemeric units – the Lubeník line, was original-
ly a Cretaceous overthrust fault. Its straight SW-NE trending
segment was reactivated as a sinistral transpressional zone,
while the NW-SE sector was reactivated as a NE-dipping
low-angle extensional normal fault (Hók et al. 1993; Plašien-
ka 1993; Madarás et al. 1996).
The SE part of the Veporic Unit (Figs. 1, 2) consists of pre-
Alpine basement complexes assembled during the Variscan
orogeny overlain by an Upper Paleozoic—Triassic sedimentary
cover (Klinec 1966, 1976; Bajaník et al. 1984; Bezák et al.
1999). The polymetamorphic crystalline basement comprises
mylonitized granitoids, migmatites, gneisses and diaphtoritic
micaschists. Variscan ages (ca. 370—300 Ma) have been deter-
mined by U-Pb dating of zircons in granitoids, migmatites and
orthogneisses (Bibikova et al. 1988, 1990; Cambel et al. 1990;
Michalko et al. 1999). The A-type granites (Petrík et al. 1995)
and subvolcanic felsic dykes show Permian to Triassic ages
(278—216 Ma) according to U-Pb zircon dating (Kotov et al.
1996; Putiš et al. 2000). Fine-grained gneisses, mica schists
and phyllites are mostly of sedimentary and volcanosedimen-
tary Late Paleozoic protolith (Vozárová & Vozár 1988). These
have been affected by Alpine medium-pressure regional meta-
morphism of greenschist to epidote amphibolite facies (Vrána
1964; Vozárová 1990; Plašienka et al. 1999; Lupták et al.
2000; Janák et al. 2001). Contact metamorphism related to the
intrusion of the Rochovce Granite is manifested by the devel-
opment of cordierite and andalusite in the metapelites (Korik-
ovsky et al. 1986; Vozárová 1990).
42 POLLER et al.
Characterization of the Rochovce Granite
As revealed by the borehole KV-3, the Rochovce Granite
occurs at the depth of 702 to 1600 m (Klinec 1980). The sur-
rounding rocks are mostly metapelitic to psammitic mic-
aschists and phyllites. Metabasites-metagabbros are less
abundant, a larger body has been drilled in the depth of 607—
702 m (Korikovsky et al. 1986, 1988; Krist et al. 1988).
The petrographic, mineralogical and geochemical features
of the Rochovce Granite were described by Klinec et al.
(1980), Határ et al. (1989) and Hraško et al. (1998). Two ba-
sic granitic phases have been recognized: (1) coarse-grained
Fig. 1. Geological sketch map of the southeastern part of the Veporic Unit with the location of the borehole KV-3.
Fig. 2. Structural cross-section of the eastern part of the Veporic
Unit, showing the inferred position of the Rochovce Granite. The
explanations as in the Fig. 1.
LATE CRETACEOUS AGE OF THE ROCHOVCE GRANITE 43
porphyritic biotite granite, locally with granite-porphyries
and mafic magmatic enclaves, and (2) leucogranite porphy-
ries, fine- to medium-grained and aplitic granites.
The Rochovce Granite shows high magnetic susceptibility
(Gregor et al. 1992) and belongs to magnetite series accord-
ing to Ishihara (1977). Measurements of magnetic suscepti-
bility anisotropy indicate subhorizontal planar fabric attribut-
ed to both adjustment during solidification and partly to
tectonic flattening after solidification (Gregor et al. 1992).
However, there is no obvious deformation fabric present in
On the basis of the high sum of alkalies (Na
O + K
O = 7—9)
and the Peacock’s index (approximately 61—62), both intrusive
phases of the Rochovce Granite correspond to the calc-alkaline
or transition between the calc-alkaline and calcic magmatic se-
ries (Határ et al. 1989). They are enriched in Mg, K, Rb,
REE’s, Cr, Th, U, Nb, Mo a W (Határ et al. 1989). The por-
phyric biotite granites to granodiorites of the first intrusive
phase are subaluminous, with A/CNK = 0.9—1.1, while leucog-
ranitic fine- to medium-grained and aplitic granites of the sec-
ond intrusive phase are rather peraluminous, with A/CNK ratio
from 1.05 to 1.55. The second intrusive phase granites are ac-
companied by disseminated and vein mineralization containing
molybdenite (± quartz, pyrite, ferberite and scheelite). This
mineralization can be compared with that of the calc-alkaline
Mo-stockwork deposits (Határ et al. 1989).
Geochemical and mineralogical features (e.g. allanite-mag-
netite-titanite accessory assemblage) as well as the presence
and origin of mafic magmatic enclaves (Hraško et al. 1998)
indicate an I-type character for the Rochovce Granites, in-
volving the lower crust as the principal source of granite and
mixing/mingling with more basic – dioritic magma.
The dated sample represents coarse-grained biotite monzog-
ranite of the first intrusive phase, composed of quartz, K-feld-
spar, plagioclase and biotite. Accessory minerals represent
mainly magnetite, titanite, allanite-(Ce), epidote, apatite and
zircon. Quartz occurs as bipyramidal, euhedral (Qtz I) to anhe-
dral (Otz II) grains. Pinkish K-feldspar forms large phenoc-
rysts of up to 3 cm size or younger, intersticial and anhedral
grains. Plagioclase of two generations (An
curs mainly as subhedral crystals or twins after albite, Carls-
bad, and pericline law. Biotite crystals are lath-shaped and sub-
hedral, their compositions vary with respect to Fe/(Fe + Mg)
ratio from 0.38—0.45 (Határ et al. 1989).
The cathodoluminescence imaging was performed at the
Max-Planck Institute of Chemistry in Mainz using a Hitachi
S450 scanning electron microscope with connected panchromat-
ic CL detector. Prior to analysis the zircons were picked into a
mount, polished and coated with carbon following the procedure
for CLC-dating method (Poller et al. 1997; Poller 2000).
Electron microprobe analyses (EMPA) of separated and
polished zircon crystals were performed in the WDS mode,
using a Cameca SX50 instrument at the Department of Geo-
logical Sciences, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Cana-
da. The beam diameter was 1—2
m. An accelerating poten-
tial of 15 kV, beam current of 20 nA and counting time of 20
s were set for Si, Zr, Hf and Y; 20 kV, 30 nA and 40 s for Th
and U. The following standards were used: zircon (Si Ka, Zr
La), metallic Hf (Hf Ma), YAG (Y La), ThO
(Th Ma) and
(U Mb). The data were reduced according to the PAP
The isotopic measurements were performed on single zir-
con grains of less than 10 µg using the vapor digestion meth-
od (Wendt & Todt 1991). The zircons were placed in a spe-
cial teflon bomb with small holes for each individual grain.
U mixed spike and 28N HF were added to each
hole and the bomb was placed in an oven at 200 °C for 5
days. After complete dissolution, the samples were dried and
6N HCl was added, and then they were kept for 1-day in the
oven at the same temperature. Following this step the zir-
cons were completely dissolved, homogenized with the
spike and ready for measurement. The samples were loaded
on Re single filaments with a mixture of silica gel and
. The Pb isotopes were measured using a MAT 261
mass spectrometer in peak-jumping mode, using a secondary
electron multiplier. The Pb blank was analyzed together with
the samples. The total amount of Pb blank was 3 pg and the
following iotopic ratios were used for the Pb blank correc-
Pb = 18.89,
Pb = 15.30. This isotopic
composition of the blank was determined by parallel blank
measurements. For the common Pb correction, cogenetic
feldspar and associated galena crystals from the Rochovce
area were measured. The resulting values for correction were
Pb = 18.57 and
Pb = 15.68. All the ratios
were corrected for fractionation using the NBS 982 standard
as reference (Todt et al. 1996) and those for U using a “U
nat” standard solution. The analyses were corrected with
parallel determined fractionation values, scattering between
2.9 ‰ and 3.1 ‰ per
amu for Pb, during the period of
measurements (Loveridge 1986). Due to the very low weight
of the zircons (estimated to be 1—3 µg) no exact determina-
tion of their weight was possible. Consequently, concentra-
tions for U, radiogenic Pb and common Pb cannot be given.
The error correlations are based on Monte-Carlo calculations
resulting the following values: 0.22 (KV3-a), 0.44 (KV3-e)
and 0.39 (KV3-f). The U-Pb age calculations are based on
ISOPLOT program of Ludwig (1992), the 2.01 version of
May 27, 1999. All errors are 2
and refer to the 2
of the weighted mean of 2 to 6 blocks.
Zircon occurs as euhedral crystals of 0.1 to 0.4 mm in size
enclosed by biotite, rarely by plagioclase or quartz. The zir-
con crystals are transparent, rarely semitransparent with pale
pink, glassy to adamantine luster. According to zircon typol-
ogy (Pupin 1980), the investigated zircons correspond main-
ly to the P
subtypes, which indicates medium tempera-
ture and a high (Na + K)/Al ratio in the magma during zircon
Cathodoluminescence (CL) and back-scattered electron
images (BSE) of zircon crystals show distinct oscillatory
zoning, (Fig. 3). The central parts show diffuse structures
44 POLLER et al.
(Fig. 3a) and locally even several different luminescent ar-
eas. Nevertheless, the inner parts have a regular outer shape
and their uniform habit corresponds to the outer zones of
crystals. No significant amounts of old, inherited compo-
nents were detected either by the cathodoluminescence
(Fig. 3b), or the U-Pb measurements. Consequently, analy-
sed zircons seem to be grown during a single event. Sporadi-
cally, inclusions of quartz and feldspar have been found in
some zircons (Fig. 3c and 3d). They contain a large amount
of common Pb contaminating zircons and analyses of such
zircons may fail due to low
Pb ratios and too large
The electron-microprobe analyses of zircons (Table l) show
slight compositional zoning with respect to the HfO
(0.9—1.4 wt. %). The Hf/(Hf + Zr) ratio is similar to that in zir-
cons from crustal, orogenic calc-alkaline granites (cf. Pupin
1992). The concentrations of U, Th, Y, REE and other trace el-
Fig. 3. Cathodoluminescence (A, B, C) and back-scattered electron (D) images of zircons from the Rochovce Granite. Images (C) and
(D) show the inclusions of quartz (black) and feldspar (grey) in the zircon grain KV3-3.
ements are rather low and often below the detection limit
(< 0.4 wt. %). Nevertheless, the compositions of the zircons in-
dicate the crustal origin of the Rochovce Granite.
Results of the U-Pb dating
Results of the U-Pb single zircon measurements from the
Rochovce Granite are shown in the Table 2 and Fig. 4. Al-
though six zircon grains were analysed, due to incorporated
common Pb and extremely low contents of radiogenic Pb
(estimated to be below 10 ppm) and U, only three analyses
gave reasonable data points (Fig. 4). Two zircons (KV3-758e
and KV3-758f) are concordant near 75 Ma; grain KV3-758a
is slightly discordant. Altogether, they plot on a discordia
line with a lower intercept age of 75.6 ± 1.1 Ma and an upper
intercept age of 1203 ± 500 Ma. The large error in the upper
LATE CRETACEOUS AGE OF THE ROCHOVCE GRANITE 45
intercept can be attributed to the absence of larger inherited
components. The lower intercept age is interpreted as the
crystallization age of the Rochovce Granite.
Cretaceous orogeny and granite magmatism in the
The Austroalpine units of the Eastern Alps and the Slova-
kocarpathian units of the Western Carpathians exhibit a Cre-
taceous nappe structure that originated from collisional
crustal stacking of the lower plate after closure of the Melia-
ta-Hallstatt oceanic domain (e.g. Dallmeyer et al. 1996;
Plašienka 1997; Willingshofer et al. 1999). Considerable
crustal thickening during this collisional event is indicated
by the amphibolite, in places also eclogite facies metamor-
phism (e.g. Thöni & Jagoutz 1992; Hoinkes et al. 1999) in
the southern Austroalpine units (Ötztal region, Kreutzek
area, Gleinalm, Koralm and Saualm domes, Sieggraben
unit). Cretaceous metamorphism in the Veporic Unit reached
middle amphibolite facies at P-T conditions of ca. 600 °C
and 10 kbar (Plašienka et al. 1999; Janák et al. 2001). Late
Cretaceous exhumation of these metamorphic terrains is in-
terpreted in terms of post-collisional, orogen-parallel exten-
sion and unroofing along low-angle detachment faults (Neu-
bauer et al. 1995; Hoke 1988; Plašienka et al. 1999). Such a
tectonic situation is favourable for melting of the lower crust
and intrusions of early post-orogenic granite bodies. Howev-
er, only minor aplite and pegmatite veins are reported to ac-
company Cretaceous metamorphism in the Alps.
In the southernmost part of the Veporic Unit, the quartzo-
feldspathic veins frequently crosscut the Alpine metamorphic
foliation in both the pre-Alpine basement and Late Paleozoic—
Mesozoic cover sequences. Seemingly these veins are related
to some larger granitoid bodies, whose Alpine age was in-
ferred by some authors (e.g. Vozárová & Vozár 1988). The
Rochovce Granite, as encountered in the well KV-3, is devoid
of the penetrative Alpine deformation present in the country
rocks. Its contact metamorphism clearly postdates Alpine re-
gional metamorphic assemblages. Therefore, zircon dated by
both conventional (Hraško et al. 1999) and single-grain meth-
ods presented above, definitely confirms the Alpine age of the
Rochovce Granite, constraining its crystallization in Late Cre-
taceous time (82—75 Ma). Consequently, the existence of in-
ferred Cretaceous granitoids in the southern Veporicum needs
to be proved also on the surface.
On the basis of the general Mesozoic geodynamic develop-
ment of the Western Carpathians (Plašienka 1997; Plašienka
et al. 1997), the following scenario for the generation and
emplacement of the Rochovce Granite can be inferred. (1) In
the Late Jurassic—Early Cretaceous, continental collision and
U discordia plot for the Rochovce
Formulae based on 16 anions
Hf /(Hf +Zr)
a) corrected for fractionation
b) corrected for blank, spike and common Pb
* radiogenic Pb
mean errors refer to 2
deviation of the weighted mean of 2—6 blocks.
Table 1: Representative microprobe compositions of zircon from
the Rochovce Granite (in wt. %).
Table 2: U-Pb data of the single zircon analyses by TIMS (thermal
ionization mass spectrometer).
46 POLLER et al.
crustal stacking followed the closure of the Meliata ocean. The
Veporic Unit, occupying the lower plate position was deeply
buried below higher tectonic units (Gemeric, Meliatic, and
Turnaic). Crustal thickening together with some heat input
from the mantle might have triggered partial melting and the
generation of granite in the lower crust. (2) In mid-Cretaceous
times, shortening and crustal stacking continued and prograd-
ed outwards. The Veporic Unit was underplated by the buoy-
ant continental Fatric crust. Shortening in the rear of the Ve-
poric wedge triggered its exhumation and orogen—parallel
extension. (3) During the final stages of exhumation, the
Rochovce Granite was emplaced into the extensional shear
zones. The sources of granitic melts could be in the lower
crustal root, not exposed on the surface.
The relative scarcity of Cretaceous granites, especially in
the Alps, could be ascribed to the comparatively steep meta-
morphic isotherms. Accordingly, the Cretaceous mountain
root of the Alpine-Carpathian orogen was probably not hot
enough to produce voluminous granitic melts as commonly
happens in orogens collapsing due to the removal of the lithos-
1 – Single zircon U-Pb dating of the Rochovce Granite
yields an age of 75.6 ± 1.1 Ma. This is interpreted as the age
of crystallization of the Rochovce Granite.
2 – Cathodoluminescence imaging excludes the presence
of inherited cores or disturbing inclusions in the dated zircons.
3 – Single zircon data prove the Late Cretaceous age of
the Rochovce Granite as determined also by the conventional
U-Pb dating (82 ± 1 Ma; Hraško et al. 1999).
4 – The results of single zircon U-Pb dating provide a fur-
ther argument to recognize the granite magmatism related to
the Cretaceous orogenic cycle in the Western Carpathians.
Acknowledgements: This work has been financially support-
ed by the DFG (PO 608/1-1) to U.P. (Germany), NSERC Re-
search Grant #311-1727-17 to P. Černý (Canada) and the Slo-
vak Grant Agency for Science (project No. 7030). The paper is
a contribution to the IGCP UNESCO Project #373. We thank
A. von Quadt, I. Petrík and P. Grecula for their helpful and
constructive reviews of the manuscript.
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