Arc-related harzburgite-dunite-chromitite complexes in the mantle section of the Sabzevar ophiolite, Iran: a model for formation of podiform chromitites

Hadi Shafaii Moghadam*, Mohamed Zaki Khedr, Shoji Arai, Robert J. Stern, Ghasem Ghorbani, Akihiro Tamura, Chris J. Ottley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


Podiform chromitites are common within the mantle section of the Late Cretaceous Sabzevar ophiolite in NE Iran. We studied chromitite pods and related ultramafic rocks from three Sabzevar massifs: Baghjar-Kuh Siah, Gaft Chromitite Mine and Forumad peridotite-chromitite. These represent an upper mantle sequence just below the Sabzevar Moho. The Baghjar-Kuh Siah mantle sequence contains plagioclase lherzolites, enriched in bulk REEs, with low Cr# spinels and MORB-like clinopyroxenes. These lherzolites formed due to the impregnation of MORB-like melts. The Gaft and Forumad harzburgites are depleted in trace and rare earth elements and thus are residues after high degree of partial melting (more than exhaustion of Cpx). The Gaft Chromitite Mine includes two types of podiform chromitites, high Cr# and low Cr#. The melt precipitating high Cr# spinel was boninitic whereas the melt forming the low Cr# chromitites was tholeiitic. Most Forumad massif chromitites have high Cr# spinels, although those rich in silicate inclusions are aluminous. Trace and REE element patterns of Forumad harzburgite clinopyroxene are similar to those in supra-subduction zone (SSZ) peridotites while those of Baghjar-Kuh Siah lherzolites are similar to MOR peridotite clinopyroxenes. These mineral data are also consistent with bulk rock trace and rare earth elements composition of their host peridotites. Field observations indicate that early tholeiitic magmas were followed by late boninites, as revealed in chromitite compositions as well as mantle rocks and dikes. We suggest a time-integrated model for the evolution of the Sabzevar mantle sequence during an early stage of subduction initiation associated with formation of an incipient arc. In this scenario, MORB-like melts (forearc basalts) formed first, causing low Cr# chromitites and plagioclase-clinopyroxene impregnations. Subsequent arc-like or boninitic melts with increasing contribution of slab-derived fluids were responsible for the formation of replacive dunites and high Cr# chromitites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)575-593
Number of pages19
JournalGondwana Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Geochemistry
  • Melt-mantle interaction
  • Podiform chromitite
  • Sabzevar ophiolite


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