Laser ablation MC-ICP-MS U/Pb geochronology of ocean basement calcium carbonate veins
Abstract:Given the vast areas of mid ocean ridge flanks, even small chemical changes dues to fluid-rock interaction on the flanks may significantly influence global geochemical cycles. A conductive heat flow anomaly associated with hydrothermal circulation in ocean crust exists until on average 65Ma, but it is not known whether the thermal signature is accompanied by continued fluid-rock chemical exchange. Constraining the duration of fluid-rock chemical exchange is critical for calculating robust chemical fluxes associated with ridge flank hydrothermal circulation. Calcium carbonate veins form during relatively late-stage hydrothermal alteration and can be used to estimate the duration of ridge flank hydrothermal circulation.
LA-MC-ICP-MS U/Pb geochronology provides a novel and independent approach to date calcium carbonate veins, and is advantageous over using the seawater Sr isotope curve that is in part non-unique and requires assumptions about the contribution of MORB Sr from fluid-rock exchange. LA-MC-ICP-MS U/Pb analyses have been undertaken on a suite of calcium carbonate veins from a range of basement ages (1.6 – 170 Ma), spreading rates and sediment thickness.
Preliminary results indicate that the temperature of formation of calcium carbonate veins place a strong control on achieving a successful U/Pb isochron. This is likely related to the temperature dependent geochemical evolution of basement fluids due to fluid-rock reaction, and the partitioning of U and Pb into calcite/aragonite. Successful U/Pb isochrons have been achieved for a range of crustal ages and spreading rates, and indicate that calcium carbonate precipitation occurs within 25Myrs of crustal formation. This is substantially shorter than 65Ma, the average extent of the conductive heat flow anomaly, and will allow for more robust estimates of the contribution of hydrothermal chemical fluxes to global geochemical cycles.