The deadline for application to the WHOI postdoctoral program is Oct. 15th 2021, and the deadline for application to the MIT/WHOI Joint Program (PhD) is December 15th. Contact me if you would like to work in The Mantle Rocks lab.
More details on the application process below.
The large range of H2O contents recorded in minerals from exhumed mantle rocks has been challenging to interpret, as it often records a combination of melting, metasomatism, and diffusional processes in spatially isolated samples. Here, we determine the temporal variations of H2O contents in pyroxenes from a 24-Ma time series of abyssal peridotites exposed along the Vema fracture zone (Atlantic Ocean). The H2O contents of pyroxenes correlate with both crustal ages and pyroxene chemistry and increase toward younger and more refractory peridotites. These variations are inconsistent with residual values after melting and opposite to trends often observed in mantle xenoliths. Postmelting hydrogen enrichment occurred by ionic diffusion during cryptic metasomatism of peridotite residues by low-degree, volatile-rich melts and was particularly effective in the most depleted peridotites. The presence of hydrous melts under ridges leads to widespread hydrogen incorporation in the oceanic lithosphere, likely lowering mantle viscosity compared to dry models.
Ben Urann has graduated from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program (2015-2021)! Congratulations for a great job Ben!
I have obtained a visiting Scholar award to visit the IGN, University of Copenhagen (Denmark) for some months. Thank you to both WHOI and IGN for support.
Quantifying the concurrent changes in rock volume and fluid composition during serpentinization remains a major challenge in assessing its physicochemical effects during continental rifting, seafloor spreading, and subduction. Here we conducted a series of 11 hydrothermal laboratory experiments where cylindrical cores of natural dunite, harzburgite, and pyroxenite were reacted with an aqueous solution at 300 °C and 35 MPa for up to 18 months. Using three-dimensional microcomputed tomography and thermogravimetry, we show that rock volume systematically increased with time and extent of reaction, leading to a volume increase of 44% (±8%) in altered rock domains after 10–18 months of serpentinization. The volume expansion was accompanied by Mg-Ca exchange between fluid and rock, while Fe and Si were largely conserved. We find that the protolith composition (olivine/orthopyroxene ratio) plays a significant role in controlling the fluid chemistry and the proportions of hydrous secondary minerals during serpentinization. Agreement between alteration mineralogy, composition of reacting fluids, and measured volume changes suggests that serpentinization under static conditions is a volume-increasing process in spite of demonstrable mass transfer. Volume expansion implies an increased water carrying capacity and buoyancy force of serpentinite per unit mass of protolith, while Mg-Ca exchange during serpentinization may affect the Mg/Ca ratio of seawater on Earth and possibly other ocean worlds.
The peridotite section of supra-subduction zone ophiolites is often crosscut by pyroxenite veins, reflecting the variety of melts that percolate through the mantle wedge, react, and eventually crystallize in the shallow lithospheric mantle. Understanding the nature of parental melts and the timing of formation of these pyroxenites provides unique constraints on melt infiltration processes that may occur in active subduction zones. This study deciphers the processes of orthopyroxenite and clinopyroxenite formation in the Josephine ophiolite (USA), using new trace and major element analyses of pyroxenite minerals, closure temperatures, elemental profiles, diusion modeling, and equilibrium melt calculations. We show that multiple melt percolation events are required to explain the variable chemistry of peridotite-hosted pyroxenite veins, consistent with previous observations in the xenolith record. We argue that the Josephine ophiolite evolved in conditions intermediate between back-arc and sub-arc. Clinopyroxenites formed at an early stage of ophiolite formation from percolation of high-Ca boninites. Several million years later, and shortly before exhumation, orthopyroxenites formed through remelting of the Josephine harzburgites through percolation of ultra-depleted low-Ca boninites. Thus, we support the hypothesis that multiple types of boninites can be created at dierent stages of arc formation and that ophiolitic pyroxenites uniquely record the timing of boninite percolation in subduction zone mantle
Emmanuel Codillo (now PhD student in Le Roux’s group) just published the work he performed as an undergraduate guest student at WHOI!
The mechanisms of transfer of crustal material from the subducting slab to the overlying mantle wedge are still debated. Mélange rocks, formed by mixing of sediments, oceanic crust, and ultramafics along the slab-mantle interface, are predicted to ascend as diapirs from the slab-top and transfer their compositional signatures to the source region of arc magmas. However, the compositions of melts that result from the interaction of mélanges with a peridotite wedge remain unknown. Here we present experimental evidence that melting of peridotite hybridized by mélanges produces melts that carry the major and trace element abundances observed in natural arc magmas. We propose that differences in nature and relative contributions of mélanges hybridizing the mantle produce a range of primary arc magmas, from tholeiitic to calc-alkaline. Thus, assimilation of mélanges into the wedge may play a key role in transferring subduction signatures from the slab to the source of arc magmas.
A great outreach event with geobiologist collaborator Joan Bernhard. This spring, we introduced students at the Perkins School for the Blind to foraminifera, or forams: small, single-celled organisms that abound in ocean waters and seafloor sediments. Joan collected a variety of forams which were scanned using x-ray micro-computed tomography in the Mantle Rocks lab. The computer models were then enlarged, 3-D printed, and chilled or warmed to reflect their native habitats. The students handled the models while listening to related audio, creating a multisensory experience. For example, for a deep-sea species, the model was refrigerated, and the students heard a recording of communications between the research vessel Atlantis and WHOI’s human-occupied submersible Alvin.