Mantle Recycling of Crustal Materials through Study of Ultrahigh-Pressure Minerals in Collisional Orogens, Ophiolites, and Xenoliths
Monday, 15 December 2014: 8:25 AM
Newly recognized ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) mineral occurrences including diamonds in ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) felsic granulites of orogenic belts, in chromitites associated with ophiolitic complexes, and in mafic/ultramafic xenoliths suggest the recycling of crustal materials through profound subduction, mantle upwelling, and return to the Earth’s surface. Recycling is supported by unambiguously crust-derived mineral inclusions in deep-seated zircons, chromites, and diamonds from collision-type orogens, from eclogitic xenoliths, and from ultramafic bodies of several Alpine–Himalayan and Polar Ural ophiolites; some such phases contain low-atomic number elements typified by crustal isotopic signatures. Ophiolite-type diamonds in placer deposits and as inclusions in chromitites together with numerous highly reduced minerals and alloys appear to have formed near the mantle transition zone. In addition to ringwoodite and stishovite, a wide variety of nanometric minerals have been identified as inclusions employing state-of-the-art analysis. Reconstitution of now-exsolved precursor UHP phases and recognition of subtle decompression microstructures produced during exhumation reflect earlier UHP conditions. Some podiform chromitites and associated peridotites contain rare minerals of undoubted crustal origin, including Zrn, corundum, Fls, Grt, Ky, Sil, Qtz, and Rtl; the zircons possess much older U–Pb ages than the formation age of the host ophiolites. These UHP mineral-bearing chromitites had a deep-seated evolution prior to extensional mantle upwelling and its partial melting at shallow depths to form the overlying ophiolite complexes. These new findings plus stable isotopic and inclusion characteristics of diamonds provide compelling evidence for profound underflow of both oceanic and continental lithosphere, recycling of biogenic carbon into the lower mantle, and ascent to the Earth’s surface through deep mantle ascent.