GEOLOGICA CARPATHICA, 52, 2, BRATISLAVA, APRIL 2001
EARLY PALEOZOIC METABASALTS AND METASEDIMENTARY ROCKS
FROM THE MALÉ KARPATY MTS (WESTERN CARPATHIANS):
EVIDENCE FOR RIFT BASIN AND ANCIENT OCEANIC CRUST
, ŠTEFAN MÉRES
, MARIÁN PUTIŠ
and MILAN KOHÚT
Department of Geochemistry, Faculty of Science, Comenius University, Mlynská dolina G, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovak Republic;
Department of Mineralogy and Petrology, Faculty of Science, Comenius University, Mlynská dolina G, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Geological Survey of Slovak Republic, Mlynská dolina 1, 817 04 Bratislava, Slovak Republic
(Manuscript received October 12, 2000; accepted in revised form March 15, 2001)
Abstract: Most of the Malé Karpaty Mts, which form a geographical connecting link between the Eastern Alps and
Western Carpathians, consists of an Early Paleozoic low-grade metamorphic complex intruded by Lower Carboniferous
granitoid plutons. Metamorphic recrystallization connected with granite emplacement led to the formation of a crystal-
line complex metamorphosed under greenschist to amphibolite facies conditions. Major and trace element contents of
metabasalts and clastic metasedimentary rocks have been studied in this crystalline complex. Distribution of relatively
immobile trace elements (REE, HFSE) was unaffected by metamorphism and reflects original magmatic or sedimentary
compositions. Two geochemical types of metabasalts have been indentified in relation to their geological position: (1)
metabasalts occurring in association with metagabbros, metadolerites and small amounts of black shales and metacherts
are of N-MORB type and (2) small metabasalt bodies in clastic metasedimentary rocks with sporadic carbonates are
close to E-MORB/OIT or CT in composition. The clastic sedimentary rocks are represented by alternating metapsammitic
rocks with variable admixture of pelitic component and organic matter together with a smaller amount of metapelitic
rocks and black shales. Relatively uniform major and trace element distribution in the clastic metasedimentary rocks
indicates uniformity of the composition and source area of protolith. The protolith of the metasedimentary rocks were
close to greywackes from the ensialic back-arc basin depositional setting, with a source comprising mostly a mixture of
acid and intermediate magmatic rocks in the upper continental crust. A new lithostratigraphical division of the Early
Paleozoic complex of the Malé Karpaty Mts is proposed. We define here two groups: (1) the Pernek Group – a meta-
morphosed incomplete (dismembered) ophiolite sequence representing a relic of the upper part of the oceanic crust Pre-
Lower Carboniferous in age and (2) the Pezinok Group composed of clastic metasedimentary rocks with a small amount
of metacarbonates and metabasalts with E-MORB/OIT or CT signature Silurian—Devonian in age which represents a part
of the rift basin fill probably inboard of an ensialic island arc. Both groups came into contact during strong shortening
and nappe formation processes in the Pre-Early Carboniferous (Late Devonian?) time.
Key words: Western Carpathians, Early Paleozoic, rift basin, oceanic crust, metabasalts, metasedimentary rocks,
The Malé Karpaty Mts form a link between the Western Car-
pathians and the Alps. The geological structure of the Malé
Karpaty Mts bears several specific features concerning both its
main elements – pre-Alpine and also Alpine rock complexes.
The pre-Alpine complex, generally designated as a crystalline
complex: in contrast to the majority of West-Carpathian crys-
talline complexes, is distinct in: (1) the presence of relatively
lower-grade metamorphic rocks, (2) a clearly intrusive relation
of the granitoids to the overlying rocks and (3) widespread
contact metamorphism. Although numerous studies have been
made during recent decades, there are many crucial problems
of this complex, which remain still unsolved such its tectonic
position, lithostratigraphy, geodynamic setting and sedimenta-
ry environment and source of sediments. The aim of this work
is an attempt to solve the above mentioned problems using the
geochemical data obtained by study of two most widespread
rock types of the Malé Karpaty Mts crystalline complex (MK-
MCC) – metabasalts and metasedimentary rocks.
The MKMCC forms the westernmost part of the Tatric Unit
of the Central Western Carpathians. It comprises metasedi-
mentary rocks and metamorphosed basic rocks intruded by the
Bratislava and Modra granitoid massifs (Fig. 1). In relation to
both massifs, the metasedimentary rocks and metabasites are
located by several ways as follows: (1) a relatively thin strip of
these rocks fringing the NW margin of the Bratislava Massif,
(2) a similar strip fringing the SE side of the Modra Massif, (3)
a relatively compact area between both massifs (Pezinok-
Pernek area), (4) inliers in the Modra Massif and (5) small en-
claves in the Bratislava Massif between the Bratislava suburbs
of Lamač and Rača or near the village of Jur (Fig. 1). This lo-
calization results from a combination of: (1) primary relations
between Variscan granitoid massifs and their mantle, (2) Al-
pine tectonism and nappe forming and (3) present-day erosion
level. In practically all the above-mentioned positions the sedi-
mentary and basic magmatic rocks were variably intruded by
small granitoid bodies and experienced metamorphic recrys-
68 IVAN et al.
tallization related to the emplacement of granitoid massifs.
The prevailing rock types include various types of psammitic
and to a lesser extent also pelitic metasedimentary rocks, lo-
cally with organic matter as well as metabasites – massive
magmatogenic amphibolites, actinolite schists and coarse-
grained amphibolites. There are obvious spatial differences
in the original character of sedimentation. Although psam-
mitic sedimentation was dominant, around Harmónia—
Dubová villages (N of the Modra town) frequently alternated
various types of pelitic sediments predominat and sporadic
small bodies of organogenic limestones have also been found
Fig. 1. Schematic geological map of the Malé Karpaty Mts illustrating the extent of Early Paleozoic metabasite and metasedimentary com-
plexes. Explanations: 1 – Metabasite complex (Pernek Fm), 2 – Metasedimentary complex (Pezinok Fm), (1—2 – Early Paleozoic), 3 –
Granitoids (BM – Bratislava Massif, MM – Modra Massif, both Lower Carboniferous), 4 – Mesozoic formations of the Malé Karpaty
Mts. Blank areas represent the Tertiary cover.
here (Cambel 1962). Moreover rhythmic flysch sedimenta-
tion has been identified at some places (Putiš 1986, 1987).
The studied metamorphosed basic rocks occur in two sepa-
rate settings. Most of them form a compact whole enclosing
several belts of black shales and stratiform sulphide bodies
(so called “productive zones”). Only a small part of metaba-
sic rocks occurs as small bodies (up to several tens of meters)
in the formation containing metamorphosed pelitic sedi-
ments, black shales and rare carbonates in the Harmónia-
Dubová area. In areas where psammitic sediments are domi-
nant no metabasic rocks have been found.
EARLY PALEOZOIC METABASALTS AND METASEDIMENTARY ROCKS 69
Palynological research in the Harmónia area determined
the age of the MKMCC as Late Silurian to Devonian (An-
drusov 1959; Cambel & Čorná 1974; Planderová & Pahr
1983; Cambel & Planderová 1985). This age is also support-
ed by the results of the whole-rock Rb-Sr dating of gneisses
which revealed the whole-rock isochron age 380±20 My
(minimal age of the isotopic homogenization interpreted as
the age of the first metamorphic alteration; Cambel et al.
The MKMCC experienced a multi-staged metamorphic al-
teration. Cambel (1962) described them as a combination of
the regional pre-granite metamorphic episode, deep contact
(periplutonic) and contact metamorphism. Korikovsky et al.
(1984) suppose that during the intrusion of the Bratislava
Massif, metamorphic zones were created around it, from the
thermally lowest biotite, through garnet and staurolite-chlo-
rite, to the highest temperature staurolite-sillimanite zone.
Contact metamorphism occurred mainly at the contact be-
tween the Modra granitoids and the overlying rocks. Overlap-
ping of contact metamorphism and zones of regional meta-
morphism led to various types of contact hornfelses
(Korikovsky et al. 1985).
Several schemes of lithostratigraphic division of the MK-
MCC have been developed. The complex was originally de-
fined as a single lithostratigraphic unit: the Pezinok-Pernek
Crystalline Complex with the Harmónia Series as its local
member (Cambel 1962). Putiš (1986, 1987) defined this com-
plex as “the Malé Karpaty Group” which he divided into two
formations: a lower A formation – a rhythmic flysch with
thin layers of basic volcanics and volcanoclastics in its upper
part, and an upper B formation originally composed of dark
quartzites and schists with a limestone layer, over which lie
voluminous extrusive basalts with accompanying tuffs and
dykes of gabbrodiorites. Later this scheme was modified by
the definition of the four local members taking into account
regional differences in lithology and tectonic position
(Plašienka & Putiš 1987). A different scheme was proposed
by Hovorka (in Grecula & Hovorka 1987) who discerned
three formations in the MKMCC as follows: (1) Pernek Fm,
formed mostly by metabasites, (2) Pezinok Fm, containing
mainly clastic sediments and (3) Harmónia Fm, identical
with the Harmónia Series defined by Cambel (1962).
The present-day position of the whole MKMCC including
the intrusive granitoids is thought to be tectonic forming a
part of the Alpine nappe structure (Plašienka & Putiš 1987;
Plašienka et al. 1991; Putiš 1991, 1992).
Metamorphosed basic magmatic rocks (mostly basalts) and
clastic sedimentary rocks form the main rock types in the
Early Paleozoic MKMCC. Subordinate black shales and oc-
casional limestones are also present.
Detailed petrography of all the above-mentioned rocks
(Cambel 1962 and references therein) showed variability in
petrographic rock types, particularly in metabasites, which
was correctly ascribed by the author to the differences in (1)
protolith and (2) metamorphic evolution.
No primary magmatic minerals have been found in the
metabasites and original magmatic textures are only sporadi-
cally preserved. On the basis of these textural relics, grain-
size and pseudomorphs after magmatic plagioclase grains
and phenocrysts, various types of gabbros, dolerites, basalts
and basaltic volcaniclastics have been identified.
Basaltic rocks were transformed by metamorphism into
rocks with petrographic characteristics ranging from green-
stones (greenschists) to amphibolites. Badly preserved relics
of doleritic, ophitic, intersertal, porphyric, amygdaloidal and
hyaloclastite textures were locally found. Oriented acicular
amphibole is a most widespread constituent in the mineral
composition of all these rocks. In textures and mineral asso-
ciation they resemble rocks described in Alpine literature as
prasinites (e.g. Eskola 1939). Differences in metamorphic
evolution resulted in variable chemical composition (and co-
lour) of amphibole and also small changes of the mineral as-
sociation and textures. On the basis of these petrographic
features the metabasalts of the MKMCC can be tentatively
divided into the following petrographic types: (1) green-
stones (greenschists), (2) lower temperature amphibolites,
(3) higher temperature amphibolites and (4) hornfelsed am-
Greenstones (greenschists) are light green massive or foli-
ated rocks composed mainly of actinolite, albitic plagio-
clase, prehnite or clinozoisite formed in its place or less fre-
quently epidote. They also contain accessory carbonate,
titanite and pyrite. All other petrographic types originated as
a result of further progressive greenstone transformation.
Lower temperature amphibolites contain blue-green am-
phibole (mostly magnesiohornblende or tschermakite) and
albitic plagioclase. Actinolite is locally preserved in the
form of relic cores in some amphibole porphyroblasts. Small
relics of prehnite or clinozoisite and epidote are also sporad-
ically preserved. Disseminated small grains of magnetite or
pyrite rimmed by magnetite are common. Textural patterns
are almost identical to greenstones.
Higher temperature amphibolites are composed of brown-
green amphibole (magnesiohornblende or pargasite) and al-
bitic plagioclase. In some larger amphibole grains blue-
green amphibole cores are preserved. Original small
epigenetic carbonate veins have been transformed to meta-
morphic diopside. Textures originally inherited from the
greenstone stage have been modified by metamorphic re-
crystallization, which led to a grain coarsening and also to
more perfect evolution of amphibole crystals.
Hornfelsed amphibolites are grey-brown in colour as a re-
sult of the presence of light brown amphibole and a small
amount of Mg-biotite. They occur only occasionally in pelit-
ic metasedimentary rocks of the Harmónia-Dubová area and
display well preserved textures of original greenstone with
typical prismatic amphibole. A partial recrystallization, co-
lour changes in amphibole and locally also formation of a
small amount of Mg-biotite are the only results of the ther-
mal effect of the Modra granitoid massif.
Metasedimentary rocks of the MKMCC were petrographi-
cally described by Cambel (1962) and Cambel et al. (1990).
Various types of phyllite and gneiss are especially common.
According to Korikovsky et al. (1984) the almandine isograd
70 IVAN et al.
Major and trace element analyses of metabasalts of the
Early Paleozoic MKMCC are summarized in Table 1. The
distribution of the major elements in the studied rocks is rela-
tively uniform and compatible with original character of
these rocks. Low contents of titanium, alkalies and phospho-
rus are characteristic. Low loss on ignition (LOI) is a result
of an absolute dominance of amphiboles over other rock hy-
drosilicates in the rocks. The reliability of petrographic crite-
ria for identification metabasalts in the whole group of meta-
morphosed basic rocks was verified by testing in the diagram
(Pearce 1984 in Miller & Thoni 1997; Fig. 2).
The subalkalic (tholeiitic) character of these metabasalts is
indicated by diagrams SiO
(Winchester & Floyd 1977).
Two geochemically different groups of metabasalts can be
distinguished, based on the distribution of REE and other
trace elements. The first group is represented by metabasalts
forming a complex unit with metagabbros, metadolerites and
black shales with stratiform pyrite deposits, the second one
by small metabasaltic bodies in clastic metasedimentery
rocks. The flat chondrite normalized REE patterns (La
= 0.87—1.39) for metabasalts of the former group (Fig. 3)
are similar to oceanic basalts of N-MORB (normal mid-
ocean ridge basalt) type including of typical LREE (light rare
earth element) depletion (La
= 0.66—0.89). Observed
differences among the individual samples (total REE concen-
tration, small Eu-anomaly) seem to be unrelated to the char-
acter of metamorphic alteration, but they are caused by frac-
tionation effects. Actinolitic rocks with an admixture of
organic matter, thought to be metamorphosed volcaniclastic
represents the boundary between phyllites and gneisses.
Black shales, contact hornfelses, skarns and marbles are also
typical for the MKMCC.
Greenschist facies metapelites, classified as phyllites, are
light grey to dark grey in colour, and banded. An augen texture
is characteristic of associated metapsammites. The eyes are
mostly composed of plagioclase and quartz, clastic in origin.
Alternating metapelitic and metapsammitic layers millimetres
to centimetres in thickness are relatively common. The most
frequent minerals in the phyllites are chlorite, sericite, quartz,
plagioclase and biotite. Zircon, apatite, tourmaline and ore
minerals represent the most widespread accessory minerals.
Also organic matter usually in the form of tiny pigment is fre-
quently preserved in these rocks.
Mid-amphibolite facies metapelitic and metapsammitic
gneisses of the MKMCC display oriented and often also band-
ed textures. They contain biotite, muscovite, garnet, staurolite,
sillimanite, plagioclase and quartz with accessory zircon, apa-
tite, tourmaline, pyrite and pyrrhotite.
Areally-widespead metamorphism of the sediments was
overprinted at the contacts of granitoid plutons (mainly Modra
pluton) by local contact metamorphism, which led to the for-
mation of contact hornfelses (Cambel 1962; Korikovsky et al.
1985; Cambel et al. 1989) composed of biotite, muscovite,
cordierite, andalusite, plagioclase and quartz. The contact
hornfelses frequently have well preserved relicts of the origi-
nal textures and structures of the metapelites and metapsam-
mites. Impure carbonatic sediments were transformed to
skarns containing clinopyroxene, garnet, zoisite, wollastonite
and vesuvianite (Cambel 1962; Cambel et al. 1989).
The distribution of major and trace elements has been stud-
ied in selected samples of metabasaltic and metasedimentary
rocks chosen for their variety of petrographic type, metamor-
phic alteration, lithostratigraphic relations and geographic lo-
calization. For the reconstruction of the protoliths, their
geochemical type and geodynamic setting or petrographic
type, provenance and source material, we used trace elements.
We concentrated on petrologically significant elements
thought to be “immobile” in metamorphic and hydrothermal
fluid as the high-field strength elements (HFSE – Zr, Nb, Hf,
Th), the rare earth elements (REE), and also Y, Sc, Ti and Cr
(e.g. Taylor & McLennan 1985; Bhatia & Crook 1986; Grauch
1989; Schlaegel-Blaut 1990; Verma 1992; McLennan et al.
1993; Rollinson 1993; Bach & Irber 1998).
All major elements, as well as Nb, Zr, Y, Ni, Rb and Sr were
determined by XRF method, by the company Gematrix, Pra-
gue-Černošice (Czech Republic) in metabasalt samples and by
the UNIGEO Company, Brno (Czech Republic) in samples of
metasedimentary rocks. CO
in metabasalt samples were de-
termined coulometrically, sulphur by the LECO method, H
and loss on ignition (LOI) gravimetrically also by the Gema-
trix. The analyses of other elements in all samples were per-
formed by the INAA using the slightly modified method by
Kotas & Bouda (1983) in laboratories of the company MEGA,
Stráž pod Ralskem (Czech Republic).
Fig. 2. Early Paleozoic metabasalts from the Malé Karpaty Mts in
the diagram Al
(Pearce 1984 in Miller & Thöni 1997).
No sample is projected into cumulate field which indicate the reli-
ability of their petrographic identification as volcanic rocks. Expla-
nations: 1 – Greenstones, 2 – Lower temperature amphibolites, 3
– Higher temperature amphibolites, (1—3 – metabasite complex/
Pernek Fm), 4 – Hornfelsed amphibolites from the metasedimenta-
ry complex (Pezinok Fm).
EARLY PALEOZOIC METABASALTS AND METASEDIMENTARY ROCKS 71
Fig. 3. Chondrite normalized REE patterns of the metabasalts
from the metabasite complex of the Malé Karpaty Mts (Pernek
Fm). Normalization by Evensen et al. (1978). Explanation of sym-
bols – see Fig. 2.
More specific identification of both geochemical types of
metabasalts was made by study of the distribution of further
trace elements. In the Cr-Y and TiO
-Zr diagrams (Pearce et
al. 1981; Fig. 5) both groups of metabasalts are projected in
Table 1: Representative chemical analyses of metabasalts of the Malé Karpaty Mts. Explanations: Samples VMK-15 to VMK-30 are from
the Pernek Group, the others from the Pezinok Group, sample RMK-66 is metamorphosed basic volcaniclastic rock. A – greenstones, B –
lower temperature amphibolites, C – higher temperature amphibolites of a relatively upper level, D – hornfelsed amphibolite; Fe
Fe as Fe
, major oxides in wt. %, trace elements in ppm. LOI = loss on ignition. * – elements determined with a relative standard devia-
tion of 20 to 30 %, ** – over 30 %.
rocks, display a comparable pattern. REE patterns of the lat-
ter group of metabasalts are relatively steeply sloping as a re-
sult of LREE enrichment (La
= 35.2—74.8) and LREE/
HREE fractionation (La
= 4.83—9.58; Fig. 4).
Fig. 4. Chondrite normalized REE patterns of the metabasalts
from the complex of metasediments (Pezinok Fm) of the Malé
Karpaty Mts. Normalization by Evensen et al. (1978).
72 IVAN et al.
the MORB field although where it overlaps with WPB (with-
in plate basalt) field. Hf/3-Th-Ta diagram (Wood 1980; Fig.
6) identified the metabasalts from the complex of metaba-
sites as the N-MORB type, while the metabasalts from the
metasediments correspond to the E-MORB/OIT type. The
same results followed from the diagram Th/Yb vs. Ta/Yb
(Pearce et al. 1981). The transitional tholeiitic/alkali charac-
ter of metabasalts from metasediments is also supported by
discrimination in diagram 2Nb-Zr/4-Y (Meschede 1986) and
also in diagram 3Tb-Th-2Ta (Cabanis & Thieblemont 1988)
which shows their conformity with continental tholeiites
(CT). Taking into account relative immobility of all chemical
Fig. 8. Diagram Na
O vs. SiO
(Pettijohn et al. 1973) for
the Early Paleozoic metasedimentary rocks of the Malé Karpaty Mts
which indicate greywackes as a probable protolith of these rocks.
Fig. 7. Early Paleozoic metabasalts of the Malé Karpaty Mts in the
diagram Y vs. Zr (Le Roex et al. 1983) discriminated N-MORB
from other basalt types. The trend following the boundary of the
field is a result of relative depletion in Y. Explanation of symbols
– see Fig. 2.
Fig. 6. Hf/3-Th-Ta diagram (Wood 1980) for the Early Paleozoic
metabasalts from the Malé Karpaty Mts. Presence of two different
geochemical types is evident. Explanations: symbols – see Fig. 2;
fields in the diagram: A – N-MORB (normal mid-ocean ridge ba-
salt), B – E-MORB (enriched mid-ocean ridge basalt), C – within
plate alkaline basalt, D – basalts of the destructive margins of
Fig. 5. Diagram TiO
vs. Zr (Pearce et al. 1981) for the Early Pale-
ozoic metabasalts from the crystalline complexes of the Malé Kar-
paty Mts. Explanations: symbols – see Fig. 2, MORB – mid-
ocean ridge basalt, WPB – within plate basalt.
elements in the above-mentioned diagrams, a redistribution
of these elements in the thermal aureole of granitoid massif
and possible effect on the discrimination can be excluded.
The metabasalts from the complex of metabasites display
some differences in comparison with typical N-MORB. A
low Th and higher Zr/Y ratio are present in the more frac-
tionated types, as seen in the Y-Zr diagram (Le Roex et al.
1983; Fig. 7).
Major and trace element analyses of the metasedimentary
rocks of the MKMCC are presented in Table 2. Metasedimen-
tary rocks from various local members (in the sense of Putiš
1987) and metamorphic zones were included.
O diagram (Pettijohn 1973; Fig.
8) indicates a possible greywacke protolith. A clear dominance
O over K
O in most analysed samples and high content
O are a characteristic feature of such immature sedi-
ments. As follows from Na
O ratio (diagram by Crook
1974) original greywackes might belong to the types with an
average content of quartz, which are typical for back-arc ba-
EARLY PALEOZOIC METABASALTS AND METASEDIMENTARY ROCKS 73
Fig. 9. TiO
-Ni diagram for the Malé Karpaty Mts. metasedimen-
tary rocks testifying their derivation from a magmatic precursor of
predominantly acidic composition. Trends and fields were taken
from Floyd et al. (1989).
sins. The distribution of TiO
and Ni in these greywackes
display magmatic trend and fall on magmatogenic
greywacke field (Floyd et al. 1989; Fig. 9). This indicates
derivation from a magmatic source probably of acidic com-
position, and this is confirmed by the distribution of La/Th
vs. Hf (Floyd & Laveridge 1987; Fig. 10). On the other hand
these rocks in Th/Sc-La/Sc diagram (Totten et al. 2000; Fig.
11) or in Th/Sc-Zr/Sc diagram (McLennan et al. 1993) plot
as rather mixed acid-intermedial arc source. Elevated Cr/Th
ratios, in comparison to acid magmatic rocks, also indicate
the presence of other material in the sediment source.
The chondrite normalized REE patterns of metasedimenta-
ry rocks from the MKMCC are practically identical (Fig.
12). There is no relevant influence of the type and intensity
of metamorphism on REE patterns. Some moderate differ-
ences in total REE contents (REE
) and intensity of Eu-
anomaly are probably caused by original variation in sedi-
ment granularity and quartz contents. The effect of the quartz
content on REE
is manifested by close correlation between
in these metasedimentary rocks. The metap-
sammite patterns are practically parallel and also display
negative Eu-anomalies, typical for greywacke (Eu/Eu*=
0.75—0.8). Elevated REE
and lower negative Eu-anomaly
(Eu/Eu*= 0.6—0.7) in the metapelites (located mostly in the
Harmónia-Dubová area) are a geochemical result of the sedi-
mentologically more mature character of their protolith con-
Table 2: Representative chemical analyses of metasedimentary rocks of the Malé Karpaty Mts. Explanations: Fe
= total Fe as Fe
jor oxides in wt. %, trace elements in ppm. LOI = loss on ignition. * – elements determined with a relative standard deviation of 20 to 30 %.
taining more of a clayey component (highest values for
According to the discriminant diagram of Bhatia & Crook
(1986), the low and stable ratio of La/Sc and the broad vari-
74 IVAN et al.
Fig. 14. Chemical discrimination of the geodynamic setting in the
La-Sc-Zr/10 diagram for the Malé Karpaty Mts metasedimentary
rocks. Fields after Bhatia & Crook (1986). Explanations: see Fig. 13.
Fig. 13. Chemical discrimination of the geodynamic setting in the
diagram La/Sc vs. Ti/Zr for the Malé Karpaty Mts metasedimentary
rocks. Fields after Bhatia & Crook (1986): A – oceanic island arc;
B – continental island arc; C – active continental margin; D –
Fig. 12. Chondrite normalized REE patterns of the Early Paleozoic
metasedimentary rocks from the Malé Karpaty Mts. Despite their
various metamorphic recrystallization (see Appendix: Petrographic
description of samples) identical or very similar patters testify to
immobility of REE during metamorphism.
Fig. 11. Diagram Th/Sc vs. La/Sc (Totten et al. 2000) for the Early
Paleozoic metasedimentary rocks from the Malé Karpaty Mts.
Fig. 10. Discrimination diagram Hf vs. La/Th for the Malé Karpaty
Mts metasedimentary rocks indicating derivation from an acidic arc
source (fields after Floyd & Leveridge 1987).
ability in the ratio of Ti/Zr in the Early Paleozoic metasedi-
ments of the Malé Karpaty Mts are compatible with the
greywackes of continental island arc provenance (Fig. 13).
The identical result follows from diagram La-Th-Zr/10 (Fig.
14) by the same authors which testifies to the geochemically
relatively homogeneous protoliths of these metasediments,
and the same source area.
Previously published papers (Miklóš 1989; Cambel et al.
1990) using major element distribution demonstrated that the
protolith of the metasedimentary rocks of the MKMCC were
EARLY PALEOZOIC METABASALTS AND METASEDIMENTARY ROCKS 75
greywackes or subgreywackes with local admixture of pelitic,
carbonatic, bituminous and volcaniclastic components. On the
basis of REE and other trace element studies Cambel & Khun
(1983, 1985) found geochemical differences between black
shales from the complex of basic rocks and the metasedimen-
tary complex. Cambel & Spišiak (1979) and Cambel & Ka-
menický (1982) established the original tholeiitic character
of metamorphosed basic rocks and their similarity to oceanic
Our geochemical study of the metabasalts and metasedi-
mentary rocks shows that primary concentrations and ratios of
the most petrogenetically important elements in these rocks
were not changed during multi-stage metamorphism, which
reached amphibolite facies. This fact allows us to use distribu-
tion of these elements for geodynamic and sedimentological
Major and particularly trace element distribution including
REEs in metasedimentary rocks indicates that their clastic pro-
tolith was petrographically close to the greywackes with pla-
gioclase as a main component, with average content of quartz
and a locally small admixture of organic matter. The identical
source area and homogeneous composition of the protoliths of
the metapelites and metapsammites is documented by the
small variation in most of the discrimination graphs. The ob-
served fractionation of some elements is caused mainly by the
variation of granularity and quartz content in the protolith. No
significant chemical differences exist between phyllitic rocks
and gneisses. The REE patterns of the metasediments of the
Malé Karpaty Mts crystalline complexes as well as the results
of discrimination based on other elements with limited frac-
tionation during weathering, transport and sedimentation, indi-
cate an acid or acid/intermedial magmatic source and ensialic
island arc provenance of sedimentation. The age of the source
is unknown, but the low initial
Sr ratio (0.7101±4) in
the detritic material indicates rather a short geological life of
the source in the crust as well as low probability of its multi-
stage magmatic reworking (Cambel et al. 1990).
The results of the geochemical study of metabasalts reveal
the existence of two different geochemical types in the MKM-
CC. One type is represented by metabasalts from the complex
of basic rocks in which they are associated with metadolerites,
metagabbros and also with black shales and small amounts of
metacherts accompanied by sulphide deposits. The associa-
tion, and badly preserved relic textures indicate rather non-ex-
plosive lava outflow in a deep-sea environment. Primitive
chondrite normalized REE patterns and specific HFSE con-
tents are consistent with N-MORB type. A moderately elevat-
ed Zr/Y ratio caused by small depletion in Y is relatively com-
mon in some N-MORB formed in back-arc basins (c.f. Sinton
& Fryer 1987) and might reflect complex evolution in a mantle
source. The complex of basic rocks as a whole can be inter-
preted as an incomplete (dismembered) ophiolite sequence –
a relict of upper part of ancient oceanic crust.
Another metabasalt type occurs as small (tens of meters
across) bodies in the metasedimentary complex. Relic
amygdaloidal textures preserved in effusive volcanics and
original hyaloclastites and volcaniclastic bands associated
with the metacarbonate lenses indicate a shallow-water sedi-
mentary environment. REE patterns and the distribution of
other relatively immobile incompatible elements in these me-
tabasalts reveal their geochemical similarity to E-MORB/OIT
or more exactly to the CT. Metabasalts of the E-MORB/OIT
type occur not only in places of coincidence hot spots and oce-
anic ridges or over hot spots (Saunders 1984), but also in back-
arc basins of convergent zones, where they appear in the initial
stages of their formation (Volpe et al. 1988; Ikeda & Yuasa
1989; Hochstaedter et al. 1990; Wever & Storey 1992; Ford et
al. 1996; Márquez et al. 1999). The CT signature shown by
some part of them seems to be a result of the continental crust
The results of the geochemical study of the metabasalts and
metasedimentary rocks are not fully compatible with existing
schemes of the lithostratigraphic division of the MKMCC.
Strictly different geodynamic setting of magma generation for
basalts occurring in metabasic and metasedimentary complex-
es, together with differences in lithology, sedimentary environ-
ment and provenance of sediments suggest that two main
lithostratigraphic units are present in the Early Paleozoic MK-
MCC, which we refer to as the Pezinok and the Pernek
The Pezinok Group mostly comprises metagreywackes with
variable admixture of pelitic and organic matter and less
amounts of metaquarzites, metapelitic rocks and black shales.
The last two mentioned rock types are locally developed to-
gether with some metacarbonates, metabasalts and their volca-
niclastics (Harmónia-Dubová area) and are thought to be a
consequence of lateral or vertical variability in the Pezinok
Group and are considered as members of the group. The age of
the whole group is supposed to be contemporary with the
Harmónia Member – Late Silurian to Devonian. Metabasalt
chemistry (continental tholeiites) together with the source and
provenance of metasediments (magmatic source, ensialic is-
land arc provenance) indicate that Pezinok Group originated
as a rift basin fill inboard of an ensialic island arc. The Pernek
Group, composed of metabasalts, metadolerites, metagabbros
with small amount of black shales, metacherts and pyrite stra-
tabound mineralization at the top of the section represents a
metamorphosed incomplete (dismembered) ophiolite. The ab-
sence of gabbroic cumulates and ultramafic rocks suggests
they originated by obduction of the upper part of an ancient
oceanic crust, most probably belonging to a back-arc basin in
its mature stage of opening. The age of the Pernek Group is
unknown but it predates the Early Carboniferous. The Pernek
Group corresponds in previous lithostratigraphic schemes to
the upper part of Formation B of Putiš (1986, 1987) and is
close to the Pernek Formation of Grecula & Hovorka (1987).
Although the Pezinok and Pernek Groups were formed in
very different tectonic settings, both they are intruded by the
Bratislava and Modra granitoid massifs (Rb-Sr isochron age
348±4 My, Cambel et al. 1990). This shows that both forma-
tions were already close together by that time and hence a
strong spatial shortening and nappe formation were realized
before the Early Carboniferous. Fan-like tectonic structure ob-
served in these formations in the area between the two grani-
toid massifs may be a result of deformation during their em-
The lack of reliable geochronological dating is a serious
handicap when correlating the Early Paleozoic groups of the
76 IVAN et al.
Malé Karpaty Mts with other similar Variscan complexes of
surrounding regions. Possible relations of the Pezinok and
Pernek Groups exist with the so called fossiliferous Paleozoic
units of the Eastern Alps, because the Western Carpathian Tat-
ric Unit is usually correlated with Austroalpine unit of the
Eastern Alps (e.g. Häusler et al. 1993). Silurian-Devonian
complexes with rift-related volcanism similar to that in Pezi-
nok Group are known from the Northern Greywacke Zone
(NGZ), Paleozoic of Graz or the Gurktal Nappe (Loeschke &
Heinisch 1993). Geochemically identical metabasalts to the
CT-type of the Pezinok Group were found in lower part of
Saalach Valley (eastern part of NGZ; Schlaegel-Blaut 1990).
The Pernek Group, with its clear oceanic affinity has no close
equivalent in the above-mentioned units, although volcanics
with a back-arc basin basalt (BABB) signature occur in the
eastern part of NGZ (Admont-Selztal area; Schlaegel-Blaut
1990). In the Western Carpathians metabasalts of both CT and
BABB types occur in the Ordovician-Silurian Gelnica Group
of the Gemeric Unit but their exact age is unknown (Ivan
1994). In the Western European Variscides most Devonian
volcanics display a rift-related affinity (e.g. Wedepohl et al.
1983; Werner et al. 1987; Pin & Paquette 1997) but also some
relics of Devonian oceanic crust with true N-MORB were
found (Pin 1990). Interpretation of the geodynamic setting in
all the above-mentioned areas is generally the same as in the
Malé Karpaty Mts – back-arc rifting.
Geochemical study of the metabasalts and metasediments
from the Early Paleozoic crystalline complex of the Malé
Karpaty Mts led to the following conclusions:
– Abundances of relatively immobile elements (REE,
HFSE) in both metabasalts and metasediments reflects their
original distribution in the magmatic or sedimentary pro-
tolith. No significant chemical change caused by metamor-
phic processes has been found.
– Two geochemical types of metabasalts have been identi-
fied: (1) N-MORB type in the complex of metabasites and (2)
E-MORB/OIT or CT type in the metasedimentary complex.
– The protolith of the metasedimentary rocks were
greywackes of the ensialic island arc provenance derived
from an acidic/intermedial magmatic source.
– The Early Paleozoic MKMCC can be divided into two
lithostratigraphic units: (1) the Pezinok Group and (2) the
– The Silurian-Devonian Pezinok Group represents a rift ba-
sin fill probably formed inboard of an ensialic magmatic arc.
– The Pernek Group is an incomplete (dismembered) ophio-
lite complex – a relic of the upper part of Pre-Lower Car-
boniferous oceanic crust.
– The Pezinok and the Pernek Groups experienced major
shortening and nappe formation before the Early Carbonifer-
ous intrusion of granitoid massifs.
Acknowledgements: Authors are grateful to Dr. John A. Win-
chester (Keele University), Prof. Volker Höck (University of
Salzburg), Dr. Péter Horváth (Laboratory for Geochemical Re-
search of Hungarian Academy of Sciences) and Dr. Ján Spi-
šiak (Geological Institute of Slovak Academy of Sciences) for
their constructive and critical reviews which significantly im-
proved the manuscript. This research was supported by project
“Geodynamic model and deep structure of the Western Car-
pathians” and VEGA Grant 1/6000/99.
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Localization of the analysed samples included in Table 1 and Table 2:
VMK-15, metabasalt, Pernek village, level point Dubník, upper part.
VMK-33, metabasalt, Bratislava, Dúbravka suburb, the western slope of
Dúbravská Hlavica hill, outcrop in the slope above the fork of a
VMK-52, metabasalt, Borinka village, Svätý vrch hill, ca. 300 m to the
W of the summit.
VMK-41, metabasalt, Borinka village, Svätý vrch hill, hillside placer in
the upper part.
VMK-45, metabasalt, Borinka village, Svätý vrch hill, ca. 150 m W of
VMK-48, metabasalt, Borinka village, Svätý vrch hill, ca. 250 m SW of
VMK-1, metabasalt, Kuchyňa village, Modranský potok valley, ca. 500
m N from boundary of Kuchyňa village, placer outcrop.
VMK-30, metabasalt, Modranská Baba hill, upper part, placer outcrop.
VMK-26, metabasalt, Dubová village, ridge of Dolinkovský vrch hill,
NE slope, placer outcrop.
VMK-22, metabasalt, Harmónia village, valley SW of Dolinkovský
vrch hill, NE slope ca. 1 km from the edge of the forest.
VMK-21, metabasalt, Harmónia village, valley on the SW slope of
Dolinkovský vrch hill, placer outcrop above a road cutting, ca. 200 m
from the edge of the forest.
VMK-19, metabasalt, Dubová village, ridge of Dolinkovský vrch hill,
edge of the NE slope, outcrop.
RMK-66, basic metavolcaniclastic rock, Harmónia village, valley SW of
the summit of Dolinkovský vrch hill, dump from an old mine gallery.
RMK-1, garnet-biotite gneiss, Kuchyňa village, N slope of the Vývra
valley, 500 m above sea level, outcrop by a road.
RMK-3, biotite gneiss, Kuchyňa village, N slope of the Vývra valley,
500 m above sea level, outcrop in a road cutting.
RMK-10, garnet-biotite gneiss, Kuchyňa, Modranský potok valley, road
cutting in a fork.
RMK-28, garnet-biotite gneiss, Pernek-Baba road, 200 m S of Mäsiar-
ský Ostrovec, below a bend.
RMK-33, garnet-staurolite-biotite gneiss, 300 m NW of Baba settle-
ment, road cutting in a bend.
RMK-39, contact chert-metapelite, Častovská dolina valley, 300 m SE
of the two quarries, 335 m above sea level.
RMK-41, biotite metapsammite, Častovská dolina valley, 300 m SE of
two quarries, 335 m above sea level, outcrop on the right side of the
RMK-45, biotite-sericite metapsammite, Dubová village, E of the
gamekeeper house Fúgelka.
RMK-47, biotite-sericite metapsammite, Dubová village, E of the
gamekeeper house Fúgelka.
RMK-53, muscovite-sericite metapsammite, NW of Pezinok, Šalátová,
390 m above sea level.
RMK-61, sericite metapsammite, Píla village, Kobylská dolina valley,
Papiernička settlement, 300 m to the N, contact with granite.
RMK-64, contact hornfels - metapelite, Harmónia village, Dolinkovský
vrch hill, ca. 300 M SW of the summit, placer outcrop.
RMK-65, contact hornfels - metapelite, Harmónia village, Dolinkovský
vrch hill, valley on SW slope, mouth of the third small side valley
from the NE, scree.