Petrology and oxygen isotope geochemistry of a fossil seawater hydrothermal system within the Solea graben, northern Troodos ophiolite, Cyprus


  • Peter Schiffman,

  • Brian M. Smith


Hydrothermal mineral zonations and O isotope patterns of the northern Troodos complex do not parallel the ophiolite pseudostratigraphy, but reflect the convective geometry of an Upper Cretaceous seawater hydrothermal system. Large areas of the sheeted intrusive complex (SIC), including the subaxial region of the Solea graben, are composed of 18O-rich, subgreenschist mineral assemblages and may represent regions of diffuse seawater recharge. Other areas of the SIC are recrystallized to distinctive epidosite rocks: granular, high-variance assemblages of epidote + quartz ± chlorite that are depleted in 18O, Al2O3, Na2O, K2O, Zr, Cu, and Zn and are enriched in CaO and Sr compared with other mafic volcanic and dike rocks of the Solea graben. Epidosite alteration occurred at temperatures of ∼310–370°C and involved fluids with δ18O values and salinities similar to those of Upper Cretaceous seawater. The epidosite zones are discordant with earlier, mineral/O isotope zonations and with the axis of spreading in the Solea graben, suggesting a postspreading, off-axis origin. The seawater hydrothermal system responsible for Solea graben massive sulfide deposits was probably driven by hypabyssal intrusions (not exposed), emplaced in a terminal, failed spreading episode. The geometries of O isotope surfaces within the Solea graben imply that the epidosites formed in fossil upflow and deep recharge conduits. Depletions in base metals show that epidosite alteration liberated Cu and Zn to mineralizing fluids within the fossil upflow zone.