Mantle Wedge formation during Subduction Initiation: evidence from the refertilized base of the Oman ophiolitic mantle
Abstract:Although the Oman ophiolite is classically regarded as being the direct analog of oceanic lithosphere created at fast spreading ridges, the geodynamic context of its formation is still highly debated. The other alternative end-member model suggests that this ophiolite entirely formed in a supra-subduction zone setting. The latter one is supported by studies on volcanic sequences whereas studies dealing on the mantle section do not involve a significant influence of subduction processes on its structure and composition.
We herein focus on basal peridotites from all along the ophiolite strike in order to decipher and characterize potential fluid/melt transfers relate to subduction processes. Samples were taken across the basal banded unit directly overlying the amphibolitic/granulitic metamorphic sole which represents an accreted part of the lower plate. We carried out a petrological, structural and geochemical study on these rocks and their constitutive minerals.
Our results show that basal peridotites range from lherzolites to highly depleted harzburgites in composition. Clinopyroxenes (cpx) display melt impregnation textures and co-crystallized with HT/HP amphiboles (amph), spinels and sulfurs. Major and trace elements of the constitutive minerals indicate that these minerals represent trapped incremental partial melt after hydrous melting. Different cpx-bearing lithologies then result from varying degrees of partial melting and melt extraction. Combined with Boron isotopic data, we demonstrate that fluids responsible for hydrous melting of these ophiolitic basal peridotites are subduction-related, most likely derived from dehydration of the metamorphic sole during its formation in subduction initiation.
From these observations and thermal constraints, we interpret the occurrence of these basal lherzolites as representing a freezing front developed by thermal re-equilibration (cooling) during subduction processes: subduction-related hydrous partial melts were extracted at different degrees until getting ultimately trapped, and crystallized cpx, amph and other associated minerals.
If our interpretation is correct, the base of the Oman ophiolite could provide the best proxy for the composition of a frozen-in, incipiently forming mantle wedge.