By-products of the serpentinization process on the Oman ophiolite : chemical and isotopic composition of carbonate deposits in alkaline springs, and associated secondary phases
Friday, 19 December 2014
The isotopic compositions (d13C, d18O) of natural carbonates produced by the alteration of basic and ultrabasic rocks on the Oman ophiolite have been measured in order to better understand their formation mechanisms. Fossil carbonates developed on altered peridotitic samples, mostly found in fractures, and contemporary carbonates were studied. The samples bear a large range of d13C. Those collected in veins are magnesian (magnesite, dolomite) and have a carbon signature reflecting mixing of processes and important fractionation (-11‰ to 8‰). Their association with talc and lizardite suggests they are by-products of a serpentinization process, that must have occurred as a carbon-rich fluid was circulating at depth. On the other hand, the carbonates are mostly calcic when formed in alkaline springs, most of which are located in the vicinity of lithological discontinuities such as the peridotite-gabbro contact (Moho). Aragonite forms a few meters below the surface of the ponds in Mg-poor water, and is systematically associated with brucite (Mg(OH)2). This suggests most of the Mg dissolved at depth has reprecipitated during the fluid’s ascension through fractures or faults as carbonates and serpentine. Further up, on the surface waters of the ponds (depleted in Mg and D.I.C.), thin calcite films precipitate and reach extremely negative d13C values (-28‰), which could reflect either a biological carbon source, or kinetic fractionation from pumping atmospheric CO2. Their formation represent an efficient and natural process for carbon dioxide mineral sequestration. The d18O signature from all samples confirm the minerals crystallized from a low-temperature fluid. The hyperalkaline conditions (pH between 11 and 12) allowing for these fast precipitation kinetics are generated by the serpentinization process occurring at depth, as indicated by the measured associated H2-rich gas flows (over 50%) seeping out to the surface.