Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

Low-temperature alteration of mesozoic oceanic crust, Ocean Drilling Program Leg 185



[1] Basalts drilled from the Mesozoic crust at Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Sites 801 and 1149 during Leg 185 have been affected by a succession of submarine, variably oxidative alteration processes by cold seawater. The low-temperature alteration resulted in various combinations of secondary minerals both as replacements of igneous phases, and as void and crack fillings. Mg-smectite, calcite, celadonite and Fe-oxyhydroxide are the dominant secondary minerals. Quartz, chalcedony and phillipsite are always very minor phases that fill open spaces. The rocks generally exhibit concentric haloes, 0.5 to 1 cm in thickness, around gray inner cores and usually adjacent to exposed surfaces. Color zonations result from the abundance of various secondary mineral assemblages present in each zone. The green rocks are dominated by celadonitic phyllosilicates, whereas the dusky red haloes are characterized by abundant iddingsite and Fe-oxyhydroxides replacing the fine clinopyroxene. Finally Mg-smectite ± calcite, are the most common secondary phases in the inner gray cores. The most unusual effects of the low-temperature alteration of the study rocks are the pervasive, pale green to gray green color and the relatively abundant dusky red haloes surrounding inner reddish gray cores. Alteration of Mesozoic crust cored during Leg 185 is comparable with low-temperature alteration of 310 m thick uppermost volcanic section of the 5.9 My old crust of Hole 504B. Except the renewed precipitation of calcite in veins, the aging of oceanic crust does not depend on time probably because it occurs during the first few millions of years after the accretion, and ceases when the crust is sealed off.