Subduction of serpentinised mantle transfers oxidised and hydrated mantle lithosphere into the Earth, with consequences for the oxidation state of sub-arc mantle and the genesis of arc-related ore deposits. The role of subducted serpentinised mantle lithosphere in earth system processes is uncertain because subduction fluxes are poorly constrained. Most subducted serpentinised mantle is serpentinised on the ocean floor settings. Yet this material is poorly represented in the literature because it is difficult to access. Large volumes of accessible serpentinite are available in ophiolite complexes, and most interpretations of subduction fluxes associated with ultramafic rocks are based on ophiolite studies. Seafloor and ophiolite serpentinisation can occur under different conditions, so it is necessary to assess if ophiolite serpentinites are a good proxy for seafloor serpentinites. Serpentinites sampled during ODP cruise 209 were compared with serpentinites from New Caledonia. The ODP209 serpentinites were serpentinised by modified seawater in a shallow hydrothermal seafloor setting. The New Caledonia serpentinites were serpentinised in a mantle wedge setting by slab-derived fluids, with possible contributions from oceanic serpentinisation and post-obduction serpentinisation. Petrological, whole rock and mineralogical analyses were combined to compare the two sample sets. Petrologically, the evolution of serpentinisation was close to identical in the two environments. However, more oxidised iron, Cl, S and C is present in serpentine from the ODP209 serpentinites relative to the New Caledonia serpentinites. Given these observations, the use of serpentinites from different geodynamic settings as a proxy for abyssal serpentinites from spreading settings must be undertaken with caution.
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology – Springer Journals
Published: Aug 2, 2017
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