Mantle metasomatism

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    Mantle metasomatism is a relatively recent concept introduced in the early 1970s when detailed studies of lithospheric mantle rock fragments (xenoliths), brought to the surface of in basaltic to kimberlitic magmas, became widespread. Two main types of metasomatism were defined: modal (or patent) metasomatism describes the introduction of new minerals; cryptic metasomatism describes changes in composition of pre-existing minerals without formation of new phases. A new type of metasomatism is introduced here, stealth metasomatism; this process involves the addition of new phases (e.g. garnet and/or clinopyroxene), but is a “deceptive” metasomatic process that adds phases indistinguishable mineralogically from common mantle peridotite phases. The recognition of stealth metasomatism reflects the increasing awareness of the importance of refertilisation by metasomatic fluid fronts in determining the composition of mantle domains. Tectonically exposed peridotite massifs provide an opportunity to study spatial relationships of metasomatic processes on a metre to kilometre scale. The nature of mantle fluids can be determined from the nature of fluid inclusions in mantle minerals and indirectly from changes in the chemical (especially trace-element) compositions of mantle minerals. Metasomatic fluids in off-craton regions cover a vast spectrum from silicate to carbonate magmas containing varying types and abundances of dissolved fluids and solutes including brines, C-O-H species and sulfur-bearing components. Fluid inclusions in diamond and deep xenoliths reveal the presence of high-density fluids with carbonatitic and hydro-silicic and/or saline-brine end-members. The deep cratonic xenolith data also reinforce the importance of highly mobile melts spanning the kimberlite-carbonatite spectrum and that may become immiscible with changing conditions. A critical conceptual advance in understanding Earth’s geodynamic behaviour is emerging from understanding the linkage between mantle metasomatism and the physical properties of mantle domains recorded by geophysical data. For example, metasomatic refertilisation of cratonic lithospheric mantle increases its density, lowers its seismic velocity and strongly affects its rheology. Introduction of heat-producing elements (U, Th, K) increases heat production, and the key to understanding electromagnetic signals from mantle domains may be closely related to fluid distribution and type (e.g. carbonatitic) and its residence in or between grains. The lithospheric mantle is a palimpsest recording the multiple fluid events that have affected each domain since it formed. These events, involving different fluids and compositions, have repeatedly overprinted variably depleted original mantle wall-rocks. This produces a complex, essentially ubiquitously metasomatised lithospheric mantle, heterogeneous on scales of microns to terranes and perhaps leaving little or no “primary” mantle wall-rock. Decoding this complex record by identifying significant episodes and processes is a key to reconstructing lithosphere evolution and the nature and origin of the volatile flux from the deep Earth through time.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationMetasomatism and the chemical transformation of rock
    Subtitle of host publicationthe role of fluids in terrestrial and extraterrestrial processes
    EditorsDaniel E. Harlov, Håkon Austrheim
    Place of PublicationHeidelberg ; London
    PublisherSpringer, Springer Nature
    Number of pages63
    ISBN (Print)9783642283932
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Publication series

    NameLecture notes in earth system sciences
    ISSN (Print)2193-8571


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