The osmium isotopic composition of convecting upper mantle deduced from ophiolite chromites

Richard J. Walker, Hazel M. Prichard, Akira Ishiwatari, Márcio Pimentel

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    211 Citations (Scopus)


    Chromites separated from the upper mantle or lower crustal portions of 18 ophiolites ranging in age from 900 Ma to 50 Ma are examined for Re-Os isotopic systematics. The ophiolites include both MORB and back arc types, although most are from supra-subduction zone (SSZ) settings. The chromites are robust indicators of the initial Os isotopic compositions of the systems sampled. There is very limited range in calculated initial γos values, with the entire group averaging + 1.31. Least squares linear regression of the age of chromite formation (in Ga) versus initial 187Os/188Os of a filtered suite yields a slope of -0.0058±0.0019 (2σ) and a present day intercept of 0.12809±0.00085 (2σ), equivalent to a γos value of +0.9±0.6. Of the suite of 51 samples analyzed, 68% lie within ± 1% of this evolution trajectory. Although most of the samples formed in SSZ environments, there is little evidence to suggest modification of the mantle Os isotopics composition via radiogenic melts or fluids derived from subducting slabs. The ophiolite data are interpreted as representative of the convecting upper mantle and suggest that the present isotopic composition of the convecting upper mantle averages approximately 1.2% less radiogenic than the estimated minimum composition of the primitive upper mantle of 0.1296±8 (Meisel et al., 2001). The most likely explanation for the difference is the formation, subduction and isolation of some portion of the mafic oceanic crust. Using models based on the assumption that the convecting upper mantle comprises 50% of the total mass of the mantle, and that the average isolation period for subducted oceanic crust is 1.5 to 2.0 Ga, it is estimated that approximately 2 to 3% of the total mass of the mantle is composed of subducted mafic oceanic crust that remains isolated from the convecting upper mantle. Because the isotopic compositions of the DMM and PUM overlap within uncertainties, however, the results do not require any isolated slab component.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)329-345
    Number of pages17
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geochemistry and Petrology


    Dive into the research topics of 'The osmium isotopic composition of convecting upper mantle deduced from ophiolite chromites'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this