Fluid Infiltration Through Oceanic Lower Crust in Response to Reaction-Induced Fracturing: Insights From Serpentinized Troctolite and Numerical Models

Oman Drilling Project Phase 2 Science Party

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

The mechanisms of fluid penetration through the gabbroic lower crust are important for the hydration of oceanic lithosphere. In the Oman ophiolite, which preserves an entire sequence of oceanic lithosphere formed at a fast-spreading ridge, the layered gabbros and dunites are extensively serpentinized. In this paper, we describe the characteristic textures of serpentinized troctolite and olivine gabbros recovered from the CM1A site of the Oman Drilling Project. In the troctolite, an olivine mesh texture is pervasively developed and is characterized by two types of veins: early lizardite + brucite + magnetite and late Al-rich lizardite + magnetite. These veins suggest the initiation of serpentinization at <350°C and a supply of Si and Al from plagioclase during the later stages of serpentinization. Plagioclase surrounding serpentinized olivine grains commonly shows radial fracturing. Numerical simulations using the discrete element method applied to coupled fluid flow, reaction, and fracturing reveal that volume expansion of olivine grains during serpentinization results in the simultaneous fracturing of olivine and surrounding plagioclase, and that the thermal stress during cooling of oceanic lithosphere might also cause preferential olivine fracturing prior to serpentinization. The simulations also predict a self-organizing fracture network that connects the olivine grains and passes through both olivine-rich and olivine-poor layers, resulting in permeability enhancement during serpentinization. Our results suggest that reaction-induced fracturing plays an essential role in the infiltration of seawater through the lower crust and into the mantle within oceanic lithosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2020JB020268
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume125
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Nov

Keywords

  • alteration and weathering processes
  • discrete element method
  • hydrothermal system
  • mid-ocean ridge processes
  • oceanic crust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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