Migration and accumulation of ultra-depleted subduction-related melts in the Massif du Sud ophiolite (New Caledonia)

Claudio Marchesi*, Carlos J. Garrido, Marguerite Godard, France Belley, Eric Ferre

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

    100 Citations (Scopus)


    The Massif du Sud is a large ophiolitic complex that crops out in the southern region of New Caledonia (SW Pacific). It is dominated by harzburgite tectonite that locally shows a transitional gradation to massive dunite up section. Clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and plagioclase progressively appear in dunite up to the transition to layered wehrlite and orthopyroxene-gabbro. The dunite-wehrlite and wehrlite-gabbro contacts are parallel and the latter defines the paleo-Moho.

    Highly depleted modal, mineral and bulk rock compositions indicate that harzburgites are residues after high degrees (20-30%) of partial melting mainly in the spinet-stability field. Their relative enrichment in HFSE, LREE and MREE is due to re-equilibration of melting residues with percolating melts. Dunite formed in the Moho transition zone by reaction between residual mantle harzburgite and olivine-saturated melts that led to pyroxene dissolution and olivine precipitation. Rare clinopyroxene and plagioclase crystallized in interstitial melt pores of dunite from primitive, low-TiO2, ultra-depleted liquids with a geochemical signature transitional between those of island arc tholeiites and boninites.

    Ascending batches of relatively high-SiO2, ultra-depleted melts migrated through the Moho transition zone and generated wehrlite by olivine dissolution and crystallization of clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and plagioclase in variable amounts. These liquids were more evolved and were produced by higher degrees of melting or from a more depleted source compared with melts that locally crystallized clinopyroxene in dunite. Ultra-depleted magmas, non-cogenetic with those that formed the Moho transition zone, ascended to the lower crust and generated gabbroic cumulates with subduction-related affinity. Thus, the ultramafic and mafic rocks in the Moho transition zone and lower crust of the Massif du Sud ophiolite are not products of fractional crystallization from a single magma-type but are the result of migration and accumulation of different melts in a multi-stage evolution. The record of high partial melting in the mantle section, and migration and accumulation of ultra-depleted subduction-related melts in the Moho transition zone and lower crust support that the Massif du Sud ophiolite is a portion of forearc lithosphere generated in an extensional regime during the early phases of the subduction zone evolution. Our results show the existence of different types of ultra-depleted melt compositions arriving at the Moho transition zone and lower crust of an infant intraoceanic paleo-arc. Ultra-depleted melts may thus be a significant component of the melt budget generated in oceanic spreading forearcs prior to aggregation and mixing of a large range of melt compositions in the crust. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)171-186
    Number of pages16
    JournalChemical Geology
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Aug 2009


    • Boninite
    • Island arc lower crust
    • Moho transition zone
    • New Caledonia
    • Subduction zone
    • Ultra-depleted melt


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