Earth and Planetary Sciences Faculty and Staff Publications

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High-pressure serpentinites and rodingites and high- to ultrahigh-pressure metasedimentary rocks from the Aosta region, Italy, preserve strikingly different chlorine isotope compositions that can be used to constrain the nature of fluid-rock interactions during subduction. Serpentinites and rodingitized gabbroic dikes subducted to 70-80 km have bulk δ37Cl values between –1.6 and +0.9‰ (median= –0.5‰, n=26 plus 5 replicates; one amphibole-vein outlier at –2.9‰). Serpentinite δ37Cl values are positively correlated with Cr ± Cl contents (r2= 0.97 and 0.58) and negatively correlated with CaO (r2=0.72). BSE imaging and X-ray mapping reveal up to three generations of compositionally distinct serpentine and chlorite in single samples. The youngest generation, which is most abundant, has the lowest chlorine content. Three rodingite samples contain abundant texturally early fluid inclusions. These samples were finely crushed and leached in 18 MΩ H2O to extract water-soluble chlorides. The leachates, which are assumed to record the compositions of the fluid inclusions, have δ37Cl values that are 0.7-1.5‰ lower than the corresponding bulk rock values. Leachate from the outlier amph-magnesite vein is indistinguishable from the bulk value at –2.7‰. There is almost no overlap between the Cl isotope compositions of HP serp/rod samples and associated HP/UHP metasedimentary rocks. Calcmica schists, diamond-bearing Mn nodules, and impure marbles subducted to >130 km and calcmica schists and Mn crusts transported to 70-80 km have δ37Cl values between –4.5 and –1.5‰ (median= –2.7‰, n=25 plus 7 replicates; two outlier points at –0.5‰). Primary fluid inclusions in the diamondiferous samples contain carbonate- and silicate-bearing aqueous fluids with very low chloride contents (Frezzotti et al., 2011, Nature Geosci). Taken together, these data record a history of progressive modification of serpentinites and rodingites by mixing with low-δ37Cl, low-Cl, high-Ca fluids during subduction and metamorphism. Serpentinites with the highest Cr contents have Cl isotopic compositions identical to those of modern seafloor serpentinites (δ37Cl=0.2-0.6‰), consistent with primary serpentinization by seawater (e.g., Barnes et al. 2009, Lithos). Low-Cr serpentinites record significant interaction with a Ca-rich fluid that shifted the rocks to lower δ37Cl values and diluted the original Cr and Cl contents. The fluid was likely derived from continuous devolatilization reactions in associated low-δ37Cl, calcareous metasedimentary rocks. These data have important implications for models of subduction mass transfer associated with antigorite breakdown. If serpentinites are commonly modified by interaction with metasedimentary fluids prior to antigorite dehydration, chemical signatures imparted during deserpentinization will reflect the integrated history of fluid-rock interaction in the subduction channel rather than an endmember “serpentinite signature”. The data further suggest that Cl may be hydrophobic in HP/UHP carbonate-bearing aqueous fluids, resulting in generation of low-Cl fluid during metamorphic devolatilization.

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Funded by NSF grant EAR 0911669.


stable isotope geochemistry; serpentinite; subduction zone processes; high-pressure metamorphism; fluid-rock interaction


Powerpoint show: presentation given at American Geophysical Union fall meeting abstracts 2012;V52A-08 (1462936)