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Journal Article

Pyroxenite Layers in the Northern Apennines' Upper Mantle (Italy)-Generation by Pyroxenite Melting and Melt Infiltration


Hofmann,  A. W.
Geochemistry, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Borghini, G., Rampone, E., Zanetti, A., Class, C., Cipriani, A., Hofmann, A. W., et al. (2016). Pyroxenite Layers in the Northern Apennines' Upper Mantle (Italy)-Generation by Pyroxenite Melting and Melt Infiltration. Journal of Petrology, 57(4), 625-653. doi:10.1093/petrology/egv074.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002C-E799-D
Pyroxenite layers embedded within peridotite represent widespread lithological mantle heterogeneities and are potential components in the mantle source of many oceanic basalts. They can be generated by a variety of magmatic and metamorphic processes. However, in most natural samples (especially in ultramafic massifs), their primary characteristics are partially or completely erased by later processes (e.g. metamorphism, metasomatism or partial melting). Here we investigate a suite of pyroxenites from the External Liguride Jurassic ophiolites (Northern Apennines, Italy). These are spinel-bearing websterites and clinopyroxenites, partially recrystallized under plagioclase-facies conditions, and occur as centimetre-scale layers parallel to the tectonite foliation of their host peridotites. The pyroxenites have bulk-rock Mg-numbers from 74 to 88 and display rather constant light rare earth element (LREE) depletion relative to middle REE (MREE) (LaNSmN = 0 center dot 15-0 center dot 35), but variable MREE-heavy REE (HREE) fractionation, with some having markedly positive HREE slopes (Sm-N/Yb-N = 0 center dot 30-0 center dot 96). The HREE enrichment, coupled with high Zr and Sc contents in clinopyroxene porphyroclasts from spinel-bearing domains, provides strong evidence that garnet was present in the precursor mineral assemblages. Mass-balance calculations suggest that the pyroxenites originally contained up to about 40 vol. % garnet, indicating that they originated by segregation of melts at relatively high pressure (italic toggle="yes"P > 1 center dot 5 GPa). The parental melts of the pyroxenites have reacted to some extent with the host peridotite during mantle infiltration. Lack of olivine in the primary mineral assemblage and the presence of orthopyroxene-rich rims along the contact with the wall-rock peridotites suggest that the pyroxenites crystallized from silica-rich melts. These probably had REE patterns and Sr-Nd isotope compositions similar to those of enriched mid-ocean ridge basalt. We propose that the pyroxenites originated from melts derived from a hybrid eclogite-bearing peridotite source, which subsequently reacted with their host peridotite to form 'secondary pyroxenites'. The existence of such pyroxenites has been invoked in current models of basalt petrogenesis. During later decompression, the pyroxenites experienced recrystallization at spinel-facies conditions, at 1 center dot 2-1 center dot 5 GPa and minimum temperatures of 950-1000A degrees C, and partial re-equilibration in the low-pressure plagioclase facies. The latter event is dated by internal Sm-Nd isochrons at 178 (+/- 8) Ma and is associated with Mesozoic exhumation during extension of the Tethys lithosphere.