Sources and timing of pyroxenite formation in the sub-arc mantle: case study of the Cabo Ortegal Complex, Spain

Romain Tilhac*, Michel Grégoire, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly, William L. Griffin, Hadrien Henry, Georges Ceuleneer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Pyroxenites exposed in ophiolites and orogenic peridotite massifs may record petrogenetic processes occurring in mantle domains generated and/or transferred in supra-subduction environments. However, the timing of their formation and the geochemical characteristics of their source region commonly are obscured by metamorphic and metasomatic overprints. This is especially critical in arc-related environments, where pyroxenites may be formed during the differentiation of primitive magmas. Our approach combines Sr- and Nd-isotope geochemistry and geochronology, and modelling of REE diffusion, to further constrain the origin of a well-characterized set of pyroxenites from the arc-related Cabo Ortegal Complex, Spain. In the light of petrological constraints, Sr- and Nd-isotope systematics consistently indicate that cpx and amphibole have acquired disequilibrium during two main episodes: (1) a magmatic/metasomatic episode that led to the formation of the pyroxenites, coeval with that of Cabo Ortegal granulites and corresponding to the incipient stage of a potential Cadomian arc (459–762 Ma; isochron and second-stage Nd model ages); (2) an episode of metamorphic amphibolitization upon the percolation of relatively unradiogenic and LREE-enriched hydrous fluids, subsequent to the delamination of the pyroxenites from their arc-root settings during Devonian subduction. Calculations of diffusional timescale for the re-equilibration of REE are consistent with this scenario but provide only poor additional constraints due to the sensitivity of this method to grain size and sub-solidus temperature. We thus emphasize the necessity to combine isochron ages and Nd model ages corrected for radiogenic ingrowth to put time constraints on the formation of subduction- and/or collision-related pyroxenites, along with petrological and geochemical constraints. Homogeneous age-corrected 143Nd/144Nd of 0.5121–0.5125 (εNd between 0 and +7.5) and 87Sr/86Sr of 0.7037–0.7048 provide information on the sources of the metasomatic agents involved (and potentially the parental melts) and notably indicate the contributions from enriched mantle components (EM I and/or II). This suggests the involvement of an old crustal component, which is consistent with the derivation of the pyroxenites and granulites from an ensialic island arc, potentially built on the northern margin of either Gondwana or a pre-Gondwanan continental block. This case study thus documents the role of melt–rock reactions as major pyroxenite-forming processes in the sub-arc mantle, providing further constraints on their sources and timing in the Cabo Ortegal Complex.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)490-502
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sep 2017


  • herbeira massif
  • mantle websterite
  • north-western Iberia
  • radiogenic isotopes
  • REE diffusion timescale
  • variscan suture


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