Article: article from journal or magazin.
Melt variability in percolated peridotite: an experimental study applied to reactive migration of tholeiitic basalt in the upper mantle
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Melt-rock reaction in the upper mantle is recorded in a variety of ultramafic rocks and is an important process in modifying melt composition on its way from the source region towards the surface. This experimental study evaluates the compositional variability of tholeiitic basalts upon reaction with depleted peridotite at uppermost-mantle conditions. Infiltration-reaction processes are simulated by employing a three-layered set-up: primitive basaltic powder ('melt layer') is overlain by a 'peridotite layer' and a layer of vitreous carbon spheres ('melt trap'). Melt from the melt layer is forced to move through the peridotite layer into the melt trap. Experiments were conducted at 0.65 and 0.8 GPa in the temperature range 1,170-1,290 degrees C. In this P-T range, representing conditions encountered in the transition zone (thermal boundary layer) between the asthenosphere and the lithosphere underneath oceanic spreading centres, the melt is subjected to fractionation, and the peridotite is partially melting (T (s) similar to 1,260 degrees C). The effect of reaction between melt and peridotite on the melt composition was investigated across each experimental charge. Quenched melts in the peridotite layers display larger compositional variations than melt layer glasses. A difference between glasses in the melt and peridotite layer becomes more important at decreasing temperature through a combination of enrichment in incompatible elements in the melt layer and less efficient diffusive equilibration in the melt phase. At 1,290A degrees C, preferential dissolution of pyroxenes enriches the melt in silica and dilutes it in incompatible elements. Moreover, liquids become increasingly enriched in Cr(2)O(3) at higher temperatures due to the dissolution of spinel. Silica contents of liquids decrease at 1,260 degrees C, whereas incompatible elements start to concentrate in the melt due to increasing levels of crystallization. At the lowest temperatures investigated, increasing alkali contents cause silica to increase as a consequence of reactive fractionation. Pervasive percolation of tholeiitic basalt through an upper-mantle thermal boundary layer can thus impose a high-Si 'low-pressure' signature on MORB. This could explain opx + plag enrichment in shallow plagioclase peridotites and prolonged formation of olivine gabbros.
Last modification date