Mantle refertilization by melts of crustal-derived garnet pyroxenite: evidence from the Ronda peridotite massif, southern Spain

Claudio Marchesi*, Carlos J. Garrido, Delphine Bosch, Jean Louis Bodinier, Fernando Gervilla, Karoly Hidas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Geochemical studies of primitive basalts have documented the presence of crustal-derived garnet pyroxenite in their mantle sources. The processes whereby melts with the signature of garnet pyroxenite are produced in the mantle are, however, poorly understood and somewhat controversial. Here we investigate a natural example of the interaction between melts of garnet pyroxenite derived from recycled plagioclase-rich crust and surrounding mantle in the Ronda peridotite massif. Melting of garnet pyroxenite at similar to 1.5 GPa generated spinel websterite residues with MREE/HREE fractionation and preserved the positive Eu anomaly of their garnet pyroxenite precursor in whole-rock and clinopyroxene. Reaction of melts from garnet pyroxenite with depleted surrounding peridotite generated secondary fertile spinel lherzolite. These secondary lherzolites differ from common spinel lherzolite from Ronda and elsewhere by their lower-Mg# in clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and olivine, lower-Cr# in spinel and higher whole-rock Al2O3, CaO, Sm/Yb and FeO* at a given SiO2. Remarkably, secondary spinel lherzolite shows the geochemical signature of ghost plagioclase in the form of positive Eu and Sr anomalies in whole-rock and clinopyroxene, reflecting the transfer of a low-pressure crustal imprint from recycled pyroxenite to hybridized peridotite. Garnet pyroxenite melting and melt-peridotite interaction, as shown in the Ronda massif, may explain how the signature of subducted or delaminated crust is transferred to the mantle and how a garnet pyroxenite component is introduced into the source region of basalts. The efficiency of these processes in conveying the geochemical imprint of crustal-derived garnet pyroxenite to extruded lavas depends on the reactivity of pyroxenite melt with peridotite and the mantle permeability, which may be controlled by prior refertilization reactions similar to those documented in the Ronda massif. Highly fertile heterogeneities produced by pyroxenite-peridotite interaction, such as secondary spinel lherzolite in Ronda, may nucleate magmatic channels that remain chemically isolated from the ambient mantle and act as preferential pathways for melts with the signature of recycled crust. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-75
Number of pages10
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • crustal recycling
  • garnet pyroxenite
  • lherzolite
  • mantle refertilization
  • plagioclase signature
  • pyroxenite melting
  • 1 GPA


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