Contamination of MORB by anatexis of magma chamber roof rocks: constraints from a geochemical study of experimental melts and associated residues

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France, Lydéric ; Koepke, Juergen ; MacLeod, Christopher ; Ildefonse, Benoit ; Godard, Marguerite ; Deloule, Etienne (2014)

Mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs) are the most abundant magmas produced on Earth. They are widely studied to infer mantle compositions and melting processes. However, MORB liquids are also the complex end-product of a variety of intra-crustal processes such as partial or fractional crystallization, melt–rock interaction, and contamination. Deciphering the relative contribution of these different processes is of first-order importance. Contamination at ocean crustal levels is likely, and may occur at magma chamber margins where fresh magmas can interact with previously hydrothermally altered rocks. Characterizing the composition of this crustal contaminant component is critical if we are to understand the relative importance of each component in the resulting MORB liquid.\ud \ud Here we present the results of experiments designed to reproduce the processes occurring at oceanic magma chamber roofs, where crustal contamination should be most extensive, by melting a representative sample of the sheeted dike complex. Anatectic melts thus produced are likely to represent the principal crustal contaminant in MORB. These melts were characterized for major and trace elements, showing B, Zr, Hf, and U enrichment, and Sr, Ti, and V depletion relative to original MORB liquids. In comparison to the starting material, relative element fractionations are observed in the anatectic melts, with enrichments of: U relative to Ba, Nb, and Th; LREE and MREE relative to Sr; and Zr–Hf relative to LREE. Bulk partition coefficients for element partitioning during magma chamber roof anatexis are derived and proposed as valuable tools for tracking MORB contamination.\ud \ud Comparison with natural samples from the East Pacific Rise and the Oman ophiolite shows that anatectic melts can crystallize in situ to form oceanic plagiogranite intrusions, and that residual assemblages associated with the hydrous partial melting stage are represented by hornfelsic dikes and enclaves (also named granoblastic basalts). We now recognize these as commonplace at the root of the sheeted dike complex both at present-day and fossil oceanic spreading centers.
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