Evidence for Archean ocean crust with low high field strength element signature from diamondiferous eclogite xenoliths

Dorrit E. Jacob*, Stephen F. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

115 Citations (Scopus)


Late Archean (2.57 Ga) diamond-bearing eclogite xenoliths from Udachnaya, Siberia, exhibit geochemical characteristics including variation in oxygen isotope values, and correlations of δ 18O with major elements and radiogenic isotopes which can be explained by an origin as subducted oceanic crust. Trace element analyses of constituent garnet and clinopyroxene by Laser-ICPMS are used to reconstruct whole-rock trace element compositions, which indicate that the eclogites have very low high field strength element (HFSE) concentrations and Zr/Hf and Nb/Ta ratios most similar to modern island arcs or ultradepleted mantle. Although hydrothermal alteration on the Archean sea floor had enough geochemical effort to allow the recognition of its effects in the eclogites and thus diagnose them as former oceanic crust, it was not severe enough to erase many other geochemical features of the original igneous rocks, particularly the relatively immobile HFSEs. Correlations of the trace element patterns with oxygen isotopes show that some, generally Mg-richer, eclogites originated as lavas, whereas others have lower δ 18O and higher Sr and Eu contents indicating an origin as plagioclase-bearing intrusive rocks formed in magma chambers within the ocean crust. Major and trace element correlations demonstrate that the eclogites are residues after partial melting during the subduction process, and that their present compositions were enriched in MgO by this process. The original lava compositions were picritic, but not komatiitic, whereas the intrusives had lower, basaltic MgO contents. The HFSE signature of the eclogites may indicate that ocean floor basalts of the time were relatively close to island arcs and recycled material, which would be consistent with a larger number of smaller oceanic plates. Their composition appears to indicate that komatiitic ocean crust compositions were restricted to the early Archean which is not known to be represented among the eclogite xenolith population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-336
Number of pages20
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Depleted mantle
  • Eclogite
  • High field strength element
  • Laser ablation ICPMS
  • Siberia
  • Trace element
  • Udachnaya


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