Genetic implications of Zn- and Mn-rich Cr-spinels in serpentinites of the Tidding Suture Zone, eastern Himalaya, NE India


A. K. Singh, Petrology and Geochemistry Group, Wadia Institute of Himalayan Geology, 33 GMS Road, Dehradun-248001, India. E-mail:


Metamorphosed serpentinites of the Tidding Suture Zone (TSZ), eastern Himalaya, contain variably altered Cr-spinels that are concentrically zoned from high-Cr, low-Fe3+ spinel at the core to Cr-magnetite at the rim. Two types of Cr-spinel have been recognized, based on back-scattered electron imaging in conjunction with microprobe analytical profiles. Cr-spinel type-I is present in the least metamorphosed serpentinite (Cr# = 0.78–0.85, Mg# = 0.38–0.45) and Cr-spinel type-II is present in the most highly metamorphosed serpentinite (Cr# = 0.86–0.94, Mg# = 0.10–0.34). Primary igneous compositions are preserved in the type-I chromites whereas these compositions have been partly or completely obscured by metamorphism and alteration in type-II grains. The enrichment of Mn and Zn increases from the type-I (MnO = 1.86–2.42 wt.%, ZnO = 0.77–1.67 wt.%) to type-II (MnO = 2.72–4.04 wt.%, ZnO = 1.33–3.22 wt.%) and the strong similarity in their distribution patterns implies that these elements were introduced during low-grade metamorphism and serpentinization. The abundance of Mg-rich chlorite and serpentine minerals suggest that olivine was the predominant silicate phase before serpentinization. Zn and Mn enrichment in the core zone of the Cr-spinel is due to the substitution of Mg2+ and in part of Fe2+, by Zn and Mn. These elements were probably supplied from olivine upon serpentinization during and after obduction of the ophiolitic mélange along the Tidding Suture Zone in the eastern Himalaya, NE India. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.