Rapid hydrothermal cooling above the axial melt lens at fast-spreading mid-ocean ridge: Quantification through intra-plagioclase diffusion revealed by IODP Hole 1256D

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Chao Zhang, Juergen Koepke, Clemens Kirchner, Niko Götze and Harald Behrens, Leibniz University of Hannover, Institut für Mineralogie, Hannover, Germany
At fast-spreading mid-ocean ridges the axial melt lenses sandwiched between the lower oceanic crust and the sheeted dike sequences are assumed to be the major magma source of oceanic crust accretion. According to the widely discussed “gabbro glacier” model, the formation of the lower oceanic crust requires efficient cooling of the axial melt lens, resulting in partly crystallization and leading to crystal-melt mush which may subside down to form the lower crust. These processes are believed to be controlled dominantly by periodical magma supply and hydrothermal circulation above melt lens. Here we quantify the cooling rate above melt lens using chemical zoning of plagioclase from hornfelsic recrystallized sheeted dikes overlying the uppermost gabbros, which are part of the dike-gabbro transition zone drilled in Hole 1256D in the Eastern equatorial Pacific by the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, where for the first time the dike-gabbro transition zone of an intact oceanic crust was penetrated and sampled. The measured zoning patterns are supposed to be a combined result of diffusion during both on-ridge and off-ridge cooling. We estimate the on-ridge cooling rate using a forward modelling approach based on CaAl-NaSi interdiffusion in plagioclase. The results show that the recrystallized sheeted dikes have been cooled from the peak thermal overprint at 1000-1050 °C to 600 °C within about 5-30 years as a result of hydrothermal circulation above a melt lens during a period of magma starvation, corresponding to a cooling rate of 30±15 °C/yr. Heat balance calculation also approves that in order to balance the heat output of a melt lens at a fast-spreading mid-ocean ridge similar to the case of IODP Hole 1256D, the cooling rate above the melt lens is required to be around 30 °C/yr. The estimated rapid hydrothermal cooling rate coincides with the observed annual to decal episodes of melt lens fluctuation and lava eruption, which favors the “gabbro glacier” model and explains how the effective heat extraction from melt lens is achieved at fast-spreading mid-ocean ridges.