Reactive melt migration controls the trace element budget of the lower oceanic crust: insights from the troctolite-olivine gabbro association of the Pineto Ophiolite (Corsica, France)

Davide Berno, Alessio Sanfilippo, Alberto Zanetti, Riccardo Tribuzio


The Pineto gabbroic sequence is a ~ 1.5 km-thick crustal section similar to those forming the oceanic core complexes at modern slow-spreading ridges. The sequence is subdivided into two sectors displaying different bulk compositions. The deeper sector consists of troctolites, with minor olivine gabbros and sparse olivine-rich troctolite intercalations. We carried out a thorough chemical characterization, including minerals and bulk rocks, of the troctolite/olivine gabbro association. Although the whole-rock compositions are mainly controlled by mineral proportions, the whole-rock variability of some minor (e.g., Cr, Ni) and trace (e.g., Y, REE) elements reveals formation by open-system crystallization processes. This interpretation is supported by the trace element mineral compositions. The incompatible trace element signature of clinopyroxene in the different rock types is nearly undistinguishable, whereas olivine and plagioclase show substantial variability of trace element compositions. In particular, olivine and plagioclase from the Ol-gabbros are typically depleted in incompatible elements compared to olivine and plagioclase from the troctolites. This chemical variability attests that fractional crystallization alone cannot have determined the compositions of these rocks, but requires an open system process where melts migrate and chemically interact with pre-existing crystal mushes leading to the redistribution of major and trace elements throughout the cumulate pile.


melt-rock reaction; ophiolites; lower oceanic crust; plagioclase; Corsica; France

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