Hydrothermal Spinel, Corundum and Diaspore in Gabbroic Rocks from the Hess Deep Rift, IODP Site U1415

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Toshio Nozaka, Okayama University, Okayama, Japan, Romain Meyer, Centre for Gebiology, Bergen, Norway and Robert P Wintsch, Indiana Univ, Bloomington, IN, United States
Hydrothermal alteration of oceanic lower crust has significant implications on geophysical properties of oceanic plates and global-scale geochemical cycles. A first order observation on the hydrothermal alteration at fast-spreading ridges is provided by the gabbroic rocks recovered from the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) Site U1415 at the Hess Deep Rift near the East Pacific Rise. Shipboard observations of these rocks have revealed an alteration sequence formed under temperature conditions ranging from amphibolite to zeolite facies with mineral assemblages including amphibole, secondary clinopyroxene, chlorite, talc, serpentine, prehnite, zeolite and clay minerals (Gillis et al., 2014). Amphibolite-facies alteration is illustrated by the tremolite-chlorite corona textures between primary olivine and plagioclase in primitive olivine gabbro or troctolite lithologies (Nozaka and Fryer, 2011). The abundance of these alteration mineral assemblages within some sampled intervals suggests localized high-temperature fluid flow near the spreading axis. Our post-cruise studies prove that some of the coronitic amphiboles, particularly those of incipient-stage corona have hornblendic compositions, suggesting a somewhat higher-temperature formation condition than tremolite.

We report here another set of alteration products from Site U1415: that is, Al-spinel, corundum and diaspore. They occur in intensely altered parts of the drilled troctolites. The Al-spinel is associated with An-rich plagioclase and pargasitic amphibole that points to even higher temperature conditions than the amphibole-chlorite corona formation. The Al-spinel is partly replaced by corundum, and the corundum, in turn, is pseudomorphically replaced by diaspore. From modes of occurrence and chemical compositions of minerals, and thermodynamic calculations of the stability conditions for these mineral assemblages, we conclude that the highly aluminous phases were formed by localized fluid flow at temperatures ranging from upper-amphibolite to greenschist facies.


Gillis et al., 2014, Proc. IODP, 345. doi:10.2204/iodp.proc.345.2014.

Nozaka and Fryer, 2011, J. Petrol., 52, 643-664.