Formation of pyroxenite layers in the Totalp ultramafic massif (Swiss Alps) - Insights from highly siderophile elements and Os isotopes

David van Acken, Harry Becker, Richard J. Walker, William F. McDonough, Frank Wombacher, Richard D. Ash, Phil M. Piccoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Pyroxenitic layers are a minor constituent of ultramafic mantle massifs, but are considered important for basalt generation and mantle refertilization. Mafic spinel websterite and garnet-spinel clinopyroxenite layers within Jurassic ocean floor peridotites from the Totalp ultramafic massif (eastern Swiss Alps) were analyzed for their highly siderophile element (HSE) and Os isotope composition. Aluminum-poor pyroxenites (websterites) display chondritic to suprachondritic initial γOs (160 Ma) of -2 to +27. Osmium, Ir and Ru abundances are depleted in websterites relative to the associated peridotites and to mantle lherzolites worldwide, but relative abundances (Os/Ir, Ru/Ir) are similar. Conversely, Pt/Ir, Pd/Ir and Re/Ir are elevated. Aluminum-rich pyroxenites (clinopyroxenites) are characterized by highly radiogenic 187Os/188Os with initial γOs (160 Ma) between +20 and +1700. Their HSE composition is similar to that of basalts, as they are more depleted in Os, Ir and Ru compared to Totalp websterites, along with even higher Pt/Ir, Pd/Ir and Re/Ir. The data are most consistent with multiple episodes of reaction of mafic pyroxenite precursor melts with surrounding peridotites, with the highest degree of interaction recorded in the websterites, which typically occur in direct contact to peridotites. Clinopyroxenites, in contrast, represent melt-dominated systems, which retained the precursor melt characteristics to a large extent. The melts may have been derived from a sublithospheric mantle source with high Pd/Ir, Pt/Ir and Re/Os, coupled with highly radiogenic 187Os/188Os compositions. Modeling indicates that partial melting of subducted, old oceanic crust in the asthenosphere could be a possible source for such melts. Pentlandite and godlevskite are identified in both types of pyroxenites as the predominant sulfide minerals and HSE carriers. Heterogeneous HSE abundances within these sulfide grains likely reflect subsolidus processes. In contrast, large grain-to-grain variations, and correlated variations of HSE ratios, indicate chemical disequilibrium under high-temperature conditions. This likely reflects multiple events of melt-rock interaction and sulfide precipitation. Notably, sulfides from the same thick section for the pyroxenites may display both residual-peridotite and melt-like HSE signatures. Because Totalp pyroxenites are enriched in Pt and Re, and depleted in Os, they will develop excess radiogenic 187Os and 186Os, compared to ambient mantle. These enrichments, however, do not possess the requisite Pt-Re-Os composition to account for the coupled suprachondritic 186Os-187Os signatures observed in some Hawaiian picrites, Gorgona komatiites, or the Siberian plume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)661-683
Number of pages23
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume74
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 15
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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