Characterization of hydration in the mantle lithosphere: Peridotite xenoliths from the Ontong Java Plateau as an example

Sylvie Demouchy*, Akira Ishikawa, Andréa Tommasi, Olivier Alard, Shantanu Keshav

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)


We report concentrations of hydrogen (H) in upper mantle minerals of peridotites (olivine and pyroxenes) transported by alnöitic lavas, which erupted on the southwestern border of the Ontong Java Plateau (Malaita, Solomon Islands, West Pacific). Unpolarized FTIR analyses show that olivine, orthopyroxene, and diopside contain 2-32ppm, 162-362ppm and 159-459ppm wt H2O, respectively. In the studied lherzolites, garnets are anhydrous. The concentration of hydrogen within individual olivine and pyroxene grains is almost homogeneous, indicating no evidence of dehydration or hydration by ionic diffusion. In the lherzolite, the concentration of hydrogen in olivine tends to increase weakly with depth (based on geothermobarometry), consistent with the increase of water solubility with increasing water fugacity as a function of pressure, but concentrations remain well below water-saturation values determined experimentally. The highest concentration of H in olivine (32ppm wt H2O) is, however, found in refractory spinel harzburgites, which equilibrated at depths of 85km., while deeper specimens as the high-temperature spinel harzburgites, and some of the garnet lherzolites, contain less hydrogen in olivine. Olivines from pyroxene- or pargasite-rich peridotites have also lower hydrogen concentrations. We interpret the high hydrogen concentrations in olivine from the refractory spinel harzburgites as due to (1) simultaneous hydration and metasomatism of the lithospheric mantle by a water-rich silicate melt/fluid, during which hydrogen follows MREE and where spinel harzburgite have experienced 'stealth' metasomatism, and/or (2) to a late 'fleeting' hydrogen metasomatism, which would hydrate the rock after this first 'stealth' metasomatism event. In the second case, the composition of the 'fleeting' percolating fluid (small volume fraction of very evolved fluids, with high volatiles concentration and transient properties) is likely to be linked to the decrease of the plume activity and resulting in the downwelling of the lithosphere asthenosphere boundary. The difference in hydrogen concentration between harzburgites and lherzolites could be linked to variation in trace elements in olivine induced by the first 'stealth' metasomatism alone or associated to the late 'fleeting' hydrogen metasomatism, triggered by the lack of secondary crystallization of clinopyroxenes in the harzburgite. To conclude, H concentrations in upper mantle minerals may thus be correlated to metasomatic events, with the later yielding variation of the mineral assemblage and trace element composition that constitute the peridotites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-201
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Hydrogen
  • Mantle xenoliths
  • Metasomatism
  • Nominally anhydrous minerals
  • Ontong Java Plateau
  • Peridotite


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