A new view on the petrogenesis of the Oman ophiolite chromitites from microanalyses of chromite-hosted inclusions
Borisova, AY and Ceuleneer, G and Kamenetsky, VS and Arai, S and Bejina, F and Abily, B and Bindeman, IN and Polve, M and de Parseval, P and Aigouy, T and Pokrovski, GS, A new view on the petrogenesis of the Oman ophiolite chromitites from microanalyses of chromite-hosted inclusions, Journal of Petrology, 53, (12) pp. 2411-2440. ISSN 0022-3530 (2012) [Refereed Article]
To decipher the petrogenesis of chromitites from the Moho Transition Zone of the Cretaceous Oman ophiolite, we carried out detailed scanning electron microscope and electron microprobe investigations of ∼500 silicate and chromite inclusions and their chromite hosts, and oxygen isotope measurements of seven chromite and olivine fractions from nodular, disseminated, and stratiform ore bodies and associated host dunites of the Maqsad area, Southern Oman. The results, coupled with laboratory homogenization experiments, allow several multiphase and microcrystal types of the chromite-hosted inclusions to be distinguished. The multiphase inclusions are composed of micron-size (1–50 μm) silicates (with rare sulphides) entrapped in high cr-number [100Cr/(Cr + Al) up to 80] chromite. The high cr-number chromite coronas and inclusions are reduced (oxygen fugacity, fO2, of ∼3 log units below the quartz–fayalite–magnetite buffer, QFM). The reduced chromites, which crystallized between 600 and 950°C at subsolidus conditions, were overgrown by more oxidized host chromite (fO2 ≈ QFM) in association with microcrystal inclusions of silicates (plagioclase An86, clinopyroxene, and pargasite) that were formed between 950 and 1050°C at 200 MPa from a hydrous hybrid mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) melt. Chromium concentration profiles through the chromite coronas, inclusions, and host chromites indicate non-equilibrium fractional crystallization of the chromitite system at fast cooling rates (up to ∼0·1°C a−1). Oxygen isotope compositions of the chromite grains imply involvement of a mantle protolith (e.g. serpentinite and serpentinized peridotite) altered by seawater-derived hydrothermal fluids in an oceanic setting. Our findings are consistent with a three-stage model of chromite formation involving (1) mantle protolith alteration by seawater-derived hydrothermal fluids yielding serpentinites and serpentinized harzburgites, which were probably the initial source of chromium, (2) subsolidus crystallization owing to prograde metamorphism, followed by (3) assimilation and fractional crystallization of chromite from water-saturated MORB. This study suggests that the metamorphic protolith assimilation occurring at the Moho level may dramatically affect MORB magma chemistry and lead to the formation of economic chromium deposits.