Geochemistry and origin of the basal lherzolites from the northern Oman ophiolite (northern Fizh block)

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Abstract

[1] Abundances of major and trace elements in whole rocks and minerals in lherzolites and harzburgites from the northern Oman ophiolite are used to understand the mantle processes creating compositional variation in oceanic lithospheric mantle. Detailed mapping shows that lherzolites occur near the base of a mantle section in the northern Fizh block. Geochemical analyses identify two types of basal lherzolite. The first type (Type I lherzolite) displays porphyroclastic microstructure and occurs sporadically in the basal mylonite zone. Whole rock and clinopyroxene are highly depleted in incompatible elements such as Na, Ti, Zr, and rare earth elements (REE). The chondrite-normalized patterns of Type I lherzolites show steep slopes from heavy REE (HREE) to light REE (LREE) that are ascribed to melt extraction, up to 12–18%, from a source containing a small amount of garnet. The chondrite-normalized patterns have slight enrichment in LREE relative to the patterns expected for residues of partial melting thereby indicating reaction with a LREE-enriched melt or fluid at a low melt/rock ratio. The second type (Type II lherzolite) shows mylonitic microstructure and only occurs at the contact between the mantle section and the metamorphic sole. Abundances of incompatible elements in whole rocks and clinopyroxenes are greater than those of Type I lherzolites, and clinopyroxenes in Type II lherzolites have high Na2O contents (>1 wt.%). To a first approximation, the high Na content of clinopyroxenes and whole rocks and the LREE-depleted, chondrite-normalized whole rock REE patterns are consistent with Type II lherzolite being in equilibrium with a mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB)-type melt at relatively high pressure (>2 GPa). However, the flatness of chondrite-normalized patterns for middle and heavy REE are inconsistent with residual garnet peridotite. The characteristics of Type II lherzolites are better explained by a mixing process in which residual peridotite was refertilized by addition of a LREE-depleted melt. The large compositional gradient near the basal thrust in the northern Fizh block may have recorded a transient state in which the degree of partial melting was progressively decreased as a result of reducing mantle temperature and upwelling rate. This scenario is consistent with the inferred failing ridge associated with a transform zone in the western side of the northern Fizh block proposed by Nicolas et al. [2000]. In the detachment stage of the Oman ophiolite, a small amount of ascending melt may have crystallized near the basal part of mantle section thereby forming Type II lherzolites. Basal lherzolites and their spatial chemical variations in the northern Fizh block may provide a key for understanding the processes of ridge segmentation and detachment at fast spreading ridges.

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