Sulfur and selenium systematics of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle: Inferences from the Massif Central xenolith suite (France)

Jean Pierre Lorand*, Olivier Alard, Ambre Luguet, Reid R. Keays

*Corresponding author for this work

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    110 Citations (Scopus)


    Selenium has been analyzed in addition to S in 58 spinel peridotite xenoliths collected in Cenozoic alkali basalts from the Massif Central (France). The S concentration range now available for this suite, calculated from 123 samples, is the largest ever reported for alkali basalt-hosted xenoliths (<3-592 ppm). Likewise, the Se concentrations range between 0.2 and 67 ppb. No partial melting signature can be identified from the S and Se systematic. Half of the analyzed xenoliths have lost S during supergene weathering. By contrast, neither surficial alteration, nor loss of chalcophile elements during eruption can explain the regional-scale variations of S and Se concentrations. A first group of lherzolite xenoliths sampled in Southern Massif Central, from volcanic centers older and spatially unrelated to the Massif Central plume that triggered the Cenozoic volcanism, contains between 20 and 250 ppm S (with occasional S concentrations up to 592 ppm) and 12-67 ppb Se. It is clear that the highest S values, originally interpreted as representing S abundances in the primitive mantle, were in fact enriched by metasomatism. Highly variable S and Se contents (<5-360 ppm; 9-52 ppb) have also been observed in peridotite xenoliths collected in the Northern Massif Central, from volcanic centers mostly older than the plume. Like Group I xenoliths, these Group II xenoliths were strongly metasomatized by volatile-rich carbonated/silicated melts which precipitated Cu-rich sulfides. A third group of xenoliths from Plio-Quaternary basalts spatially related to the Massif Central Plume are uniformly poor in S (10-60 ppm) and Se (9-29 ppb). In this Group III, poikiloblastic textured xenoliths have lost most of their S and Se budget by peridotite-melt interactions at high melt/rock ratios. Taken as a whole, the Massif Central xenolith suite provides further evidence for strong heterogeneities in the S and Se budget of the sub-continental lithospheric mantle. However, the few LREE-depleted fertile lherzolites that escaped strong metasomatic alterations suggest a S- and Se-depleted primitive mantle reservoir compared to currently accepted primitive mantle estimates.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)4137-4151
    Number of pages15
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Issue number21
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2003

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