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Chromitite and peridotite from Rayat, northeastern Iraq, as fragments of a Tethyan ophiolite

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Abstract

Ophiolitic rocks (chromitites and serpentinized peridotites) were petrologically examined in detail for the first time from Rayat, in the Iraqi part of the Zagros thrust zone, an ophiolitic belt. Almost all the primary silicates have been altered out, but chromian spinel has survived from alteration and gives information about the primary petrological characteristics. The protolith of the serpentinite was clinopyroxene-free harzburgite with chromian spinel of intermediate Cr# (= Cr/[Cr + Al] atomic ratio) of 0.5 to 0.6. The harzburgite with that signature is the most common in the mantle section of the Tethyan ophiolites such as the Oman ophiolite, and is the most suitable host for chromitite genesis. Except for one sample, which has Cr# = 0.6 for spinel, the Cr# of spinel is high, around 0.7, in chromitite. The variation in Cr# of spinel in chromitite observed here has been also reported in the Oman ophiolite. The peridotite with chromitite pods exposed at Rayat was derived from an ophiolite similar in petrological character to the Oman ophiolite, one of the typical Tethyan ophiolites (fragments of Tethyan oceanic lithosphere). This result is consistent with the previous interpretation based on geological analysis.

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