Silica controls on hydration kinetics during serpentinization of olivine: Insights from hydrothermal experiments and a reactive transport model

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Abstract

Silica activity in fluids is a key factor that controls reaction pathways during the hydrothermal alteration of olivine in the oceanic lithosphere. In this study, we conducted hydrothermal experiments (300 °C, 8.58 MPa) on the olivine (Ol)–quartz (Qtz)–H2O system to understand the coupling between silica transport and olivine alteration. Mineral powders were reacted with 0.5 mol kg−1 NaCl solution in a tube-in-tube type vessel, and the spatial distribution of reactant and product minerals was investigated after the experiments. Alteration zones formed in the Ol-hosted region after 2055 hours of reaction. With increasing distance from the Ol–Qtz boundary these were: talc; talc + serpentine; and serpentine + magnetite + brucite. Talc formed 0–2.3 mm from the Ol–Qtz boundary in the Ol-hosted region, and brucite formed >5 mm from the Ol–Qtz boundary in the Ol-hosted region. No secondary minerals formed in the Qtz-hosted region. The observed mineral distribution was modeled using a reactive transport model that simulated the coupling between SiO2(aq) diffusion and seven silica-controlling reactions. An inverse modeling framework, which combines a reactive transport model with an exchange Monte Carlo method, was used to parameterize the diffusivity of SiO2(aq) and the rate constants of the seven overall reactions. Our model shows that the rate of hydration in the serpentine + metastable talc zone with intermediate silica activity was higher than in the serpentine, serpentine + brucite, and talc zones, suggesting that the silica activity of the reacting fluid has a significant control on the rate of hydrothermal alteration of mantle peridotite by crustal fluids. Moreover, the model suggests that the rate-control process changed from being surface- to transport-controlled over the course of the experiments. We suggest that dynamic changes in rate control process are important contributors to the formation of metasomatic zoning and heterogeneous hydration patterns within the oceanic lithosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-42
Number of pages22
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Volume270
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 1

Keywords

  • Diffusion
  • Dissolved Si
  • Markov chain Monte Carlo
  • Rate-limiting process
  • Reaction rate
  • Reactive-transport
  • Serpentinization
  • Silica metasomatism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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