Helium isotopes in peridotite mineral phases from Hyblean Plateau xenoliths (south-eastern Sicily, Italy)

Giovanna Sapienza*, David R. Hilton, Vittorio Scribano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Fourteen He isotope and abundance analyses have been performed on olivine, orthopyroxene, and clinopyroxene grains from selected spinel-facies peridotite xenoliths collected from the Hyblean Plateau, southeastern Sicily. These peridotites consist of protogranular-textured, spinel-facies lherzolites and lherzolitic harzburgites. Microthermometric data on olivine and pyroxenes reveal that the fluid inclusions (FIs) are nearly pure CO2, with densities ranging from 0.76 to 1.15 g/cm3. The densest inclusion trail occurs in an orthopyroxene grain and indicates a trapping-pressure of 0.98-1.14 GPa (estimated equilibration temperature of 1000 °C for pure CO2 system) corresponding to a depth of ∼ 36-41 km (for an average estimated density of the lithospheric column of 2.85 g/cm3). These are minimum estimates. The near-unimodal distribution of CO2 densities indicates that these xenoliths have been stored at the pressure interval of 0.75-0.95 GPa - Corresponding to a depth of ∼ 27-35 km (crust-mantle boundary or just below). En route to the surface, they have not had any significant interaction with shallower volatile reservoirs. He trapped in CO2-rich fluid inclusions ranges in abundance from 1.8 to 86.6×10-9 cm3 STP/g, with clinopyroxenes usually showing higher He contents than coexisting olivines and orthopyroxenes. The inter-mineral differences are due to physical properties of minerals. In contrast, He isotope ratios cover a narrow range (∼ 7.3 ± 0.3RA, where RA = air 3He/4He), indicating isotopic equilibration between the mineral phases. He composition indicates a MORB-type source for the metasomatic agent(s), influenced by relatively minor radiogenic production in the source. Therefore, in closed-system conditions, the calculated helium residence time is 790 Myr. Geophysical and geochemical studies suggest the existence of a common fluid reservoir in the mantle beneath the Central Mediterranean area. The most pristine He signature for the mantle endmember is found on Pantelleria Island (Sicily Channel): This He ratio is similar to that found in Hyblean peridotite minerals, testifying to a common source history. We conclude, therefore, that Hyblean xenoliths can be used as a powerful tool in defining the geochemical features of this portion of the upper mantle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-129
Number of pages15
JournalChemical Geology
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • CO fluid inclusions
  • He isotopes
  • Hyblean Plateau
  • Mantle metasomatism
  • Peridotite xenoliths


Dive into the research topics of 'Helium isotopes in peridotite mineral phases from Hyblean Plateau xenoliths (south-eastern Sicily, Italy)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this