A new model for chromitite formation in ophiolites: Fluid immiscibility


Su B., Liu X., Chen C., Robinson P. T. , Xiao Y., Zhou M., ...More

SCIENCE CHINA-EARTH SCIENCES, vol.64, no.2, pp.220-230, 2021 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 64 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11430-020-9690-4
  • Title of Journal : SCIENCE CHINA-EARTH SCIENCES
  • Page Numbers: pp.220-230
  • Keywords: Chromitite, Fluid immiscibility, Mineral inclusion, Ophiolite, IRON ISOTOPIC FRACTIONATION, MELT-ROCK INTERACTION, PODIFORM CHROMITITES, LUOBUSA OPHIOLITE, KIZILDAG OPHIOLITE, OMAN OPHIOLITE, SOLID INCLUSIONS, DIAMOND-BEARING, PARENTAL MAGMAS, SUTURE ZONE

Abstract

Although the involvement of hydrous fluids has been widely invoked in formation of podiform chromitites in ophiolites, there is lack of natural evidence to signify the role and mechanism of fluids. In this study, a new model for the genesis of podiform chromitite is proposed on basis of revisits of comprehensive petrological, mineralogical and geochemical results of the well-preserved Kizildag ophiolite and the well-characterized Luobusa chromite deposit. In this model, ascending magmas intruding oceanic lithospheric mantle would presumably form a series of small magma chambers continuously connected by conduits. Tiny chromite nuclei would collect fluids dispersed in such magmas to form nascent droplets. They tend to float upward in the magma chamber and would be easily transported upward by flowing magmas. Chromite-rich droplets would be enlarged via coalescence of dispersed droplets during mingling and circulation in the magma chamber and/or transport in magma conduits. Crystallization of the chromite-rich liquid droplets would proceed from the margin of the droplet inward, leaving liquid entrapped within grains as precursor of mineral inclusions. With preferential upward transportation, immiscible chromite-rich liquids would coalesce to a large pool in a magma chamber. Large volumes of chromite would crystallize in situ, forming podiform chromitite and resulting in fluid enrichment in the chamber. The fluids would penetrate and compositionally modify ambient dunite and harzburgite, leading to significant fractionations of elemental and isotopic compositions between melts and fluids from which dunite and chromitite respectively formed. Therefore, fluid immiscibility during basaltic magma ascent plays a vital role in chromitite formation.