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September 2019 – New paper in Minerals: Connecting timing of boninite percolation and pyroxenite formation in subduction mantle

September 26, 2019


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

July 2018 – New paper in Nature Communications: Arc-like magmas generated by melange-peridotite interaction in the mantle wedge

July 24, 2018


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.

April 2018 – Visit at the Perkins school for the Blind

May 31, 2018

Visit at the Perkins school for the Blind

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.

March 2018 – New paper in Geology: melting of pure melanges produces alkaline magmas

March 27, 2018

Alicia ‘Cici’ Cruz-Uribe

Alicia ‘Cici’ Cruz-Uribe (WHOI postdoc 2014-2015) has just published her work on melange melting in Geology.

“Here we report results from experiments in which natural mélange materials were partially melted at upper mantle conditions to produce alkaline magmas. Partial melts produced in our experiments have trace-element abundance patterns that are typical of alkaline arc lavas, such as enrichment in large ion lithophile elements (LILEs) and depletion in Nb and Ta. These results favor generation of alkaline magmas in the arc and backarc regions of subduction zones by partial melting of mélange materials rather than previously metasomatized peridotite.”

Oct 2017 – Back from the mid-Atlantic ridge!

October 17, 2017

On the Boat

The SCARF 2017 student-led cruise is back on shore! After a few days in the Azores we sailed across the mid-Atlantic ridge aboard the R/V Neil Armstrong and acquired bathymetry, gravity and magnetics data along a flow line. It was an amazing adventure!

SCARF 2017: A modern-day transatlantic crossing

Sept 2017 – Welcome Emily!

September 27, 2017

Emily Cooperdock

Emily just started a Doherty Postodoctoral scholar at WHOI and is working on (U-Th)/He thermochronology and trace element geochemistry to 1) date magnetite that form during fluid alteration, 2) investigate the geochemical fingerprints of serpentinization at different tectonic settings, and 3) constrain the thermal history of mantle peridotites. Emily has extensive experience with anything outdoorsy and all sorts of fieldwork. She will be working with several WHOI scientists, including Frieder Klein and myself.

July 2017 – Welcome Taylor!

July 24, 2017


Taylor comes from Brown University and is a 2017 Summer Student Fellow working on the formation of pyroxenites in the Josephine Ophiolite (Oregon). He is using EPMA, LA-ICP-MS, REE closure temperatures and Nd isotopes by MC-ICP-MS to decipher the timing of vein formation in the mantle.

June 2017 – New paper in Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology: Fluorine and chlorine in mantle minerals

June 9, 2017


Ben Urann (PhD student in Le Roux’s group) just published his work on SIMS developments and halogen budgets of the Earth’s mantle!

The fluorine (F) and chlorine (Cl) contents of arc magmas have been used to track the composition of subducted components, and the F and Cl contents of MORB  have been used to estimate the halogen content of depleted MORB mantle (DMM). Yet, the F and Cl budget of the Earth’s upper mantle and their distribution in  peridotite minerals remain to be constrained. Here, we developed a method to measure low concentrations of halogens (≥0.4 μg/g F and ≥0.3 μg/g Cl) in minerals by secondary ion mass spectroscopy. We present a comprehensive study of F and Cl in co-existing natural olivine, orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene, and amphibole in seventeen samples from different tectonic settings. We support the hypothesis that F in olivine is controlled by melt polymerization, and that F in pyroxene is  controlled by their Na and Al contents, with some effect of melt polymerization. We infer that Cl compatibility ranks as follows: amphibole > clinopyroxene > olivine ~ orthopyroxene, while F compatibility ranks as follows: amphibole > clinopyroxene > orthopyroxene ≥ olivine, depending on the tectonic context. In addition, we show that F, Cl, Be and B are correlated in pyroxenes and amphibole. F and Cl variations suggest that interaction with slab melts and fluids can  significantly alter the halogen content of mantle minerals. In particular, F in oceanic peridotites is mostly hosted in pyroxenes, and proportionally increases in  olivine in subduction-related peridotites. The mantle wedge is likely enriched in F compared to un-metasomatized mantle, while Cl is always low (<1 μg/g) in all tectonic settings studied here. The bulk anhydrous peridotite mantle contains 1.4–31 μg/g F and 0.14–0.38 μg/g Cl. The bulk F content of oceanic-like peridotites
(2.1–9.4 μg/g) is lower than DMM estimates, consistent with F-rich eclogite in the source of MORB. Furthermore, the bulk Cl budget of all anhydrous peridotites studied here is lower than previous DMM estimates. Our results indicate that nearly all MORB may be somewhat contaminated by seawater-rich material and that the Cl content of DMM could be overestimated. With this study, we demonstrate that the halogen contents of natural peridotite minerals are a unique tool to  understand the cycling of halogens, from ridge settings to subduction zones.

Dec 2016 – New paper in EPSL: Dating the formation of mantle heterogeneities

December 19, 2016


Constraining the scale and the nature  of mantle heterogeneities is critical to understand mantle dynamics, but there is still limited information available on the mechanisms and timing of formation of mantle heterogeneities observed in exhumed mantle rocks. Most of those heterogeneities are layered pyroxene-rich veins that form as a result of melt focusing and subsequent melt-rock reactions (Le Roux et al. 2007, 2008, 2009). A critical question is whether those heterogeneities reflect ubiquitous melt-rock reaction processes in the upper mantle, or whether they only form locally at the time of exhumation. Those two hypotheses have drastically different consequences. If mantle heterogeneities in exhumed mantle rocks reflect ubiquitous processes, one can assume that large quantities of melts may accumulate at depth, and not necessarily erupt. On the other hand, if mantle heterogeneities observed in exhumed mantle rocks usually form during exhumation, melt accumulation and melt-rock reaction processes in the mantle may only be local processes. Answering this question requires the ability to constrain the timing of formation of those heterogeneities relative to the age of exhumation in a given massif. In the Le Roux et al. (2016) study funded by NSF-EAR, we present a new method that places solid constraints on the age of layered pyroxenites veins, products of melt-rock reaction in the Lherz Massif. We combine high-resolution trace element profiles, isotope model ages, and diffusive re-equilibration timescales using major and trace element closure temperatures to constrain the formation age of layered pyroxenites in exhumed peridotites. We show that these heterogeneities are 1.5-1.8 Ga old and that their formation of is clearly disconnected from the process of exhumation at ~ 100 Ma. These results are important because they show that melt–rock reactions that lead to the formation of such heterogeneities are not a local process due to exhumation of the mantle, but must rather be widespread and continue to occur at lithosphere-asthenosphere boundaries today.

Dec 2015 – New paper in American Mineralogist: Partition coefficients for FRTE during mantle melting

December 28, 2015


First-row transition element (FRTE) concentrations in primitive mantle-derived melts have been used as direct indicators of mantle source mineralogy (e.g., Ti, Mn, Fe, Co, Ni, Zn) and as proxies to trace the oxidation state of the mantle (e.g., Sc, V, Cu, Zn). Ga and Ge, which share chemical similarities with FRTEs, may also have the ability to trace mineralogical heterogeneities in the source of mantle-derived melts. Although the partitioning behaviors of most FRTEs are well constrained during mantle melting, partition coefficients of Cu, Ga, and Ge between mantle minerals and melt are still uncertain. Here we report new measurements that constrain partition coefficients of Cu, Ga, and Ge between olivine (Ol), orthopyroxene (Opx), clinopyroxene (Cpx), and basaltic melt from graphite capsule experiments carried out at 1.5–2 GPa and 1290–1500 °C. We suggest that discrepancies between recent experimental studies on Cu partitioning reflect one or more of the following causes: compositional control on partitioning, the effect of oxygen fugacity, Cu loss, Fe loss, non-Henrian behavior, and/or lack of complete chemical equilibrium. The partitioning values obtained from this study are 0.13 (±0.06), 0.12 (±3), and 0.09 for DCuOl/melt, DCuOpx/melt, and DCuCpx/melt, respectively. Using values from this study and from the literature, we show that melting of a sulfide-bearing peridotite source with an initial DCu peridotite/melt ranging from 0.49 to 0.60 can explain the Cu content of primitive MORBs. Here, we also support the hypothesis that Ga partitioning between pyroxenes and melt strongly depends on the Al2O3 content of pyroxenes. Using pyroxene compositions from experiments, and previous partition data from literature, we recommend DGaPx/melt values for low-P (1.5 GPa) spinel peridotite melting (DGaOpx/melt = 0.23 and DGaCpx/melt = 0.28), intermediate-P (2.8 GPa) spinel peridotite melting (DGaOpx/melt = 0.42 and DGaCpx/melt = 0.40), high-P (3 GPa) garnet peridotite melting (DGaOpx/melt = 0.38 and DGaCpx/melt = 0.37), high-P (4 GPa) garnet peridotite melting (DGaOpx/melt = 0.26 and DGaCpx/melt = 0.30), and MORB-like eclogite melting at 2–3 GPa (DGaCpx/melt = 0.78). Consistent with previous studies, we find that Ga is incompatible in olivine during low-P peridotite melting (DGaOl/melt = 0.08). Using values from this study and from the literature, we support the hypothesis that the Ga, Ga/Sc, and Ti contents of most mantle-derived melts require garnet in their source, but that additional lithologies (e.g., metasomatic veins) may be necessary to explain the chemical variability of those melts. Here we also obtain Ge partition coefficients applicable to low-P peridotite melting of 0.67, 1.04, and 1.12 for DGeOl/melt, DGeOpx/melt, and DGeCpx/melt, respectively. Last, to provide a comprehensive picture of FRTE, Ga, and Ge partitioning during mantle melting, we provide a complete set of recommended partitioning values, based on results from this study and from the literature, for all FRTEs, Ga, and Ge, relevant for partial melting of spinel and garnet peridotite, as well as for MORB-like eclogite.