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Characteristics and tectonic significance of supra-subduction zone ophiolites

Pearce, Julian A., Lippard, S. J. and Roberts, S. 1984. Characteristics and tectonic significance of supra-subduction zone ophiolites. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 16 (1) , pp. 77-94. 10.1144/gsl.sp.1984.016.01.06

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Supra-subduction zone (SSZ) ophiolites have the geochemical characteristics of island arcs but the structure of oceanic crust and are thought to have formed by sea-floor spreading directly above subducted oceanic lithosphere. They differ from ‘MORB’ ophiolites not only in their geochemistry but also in the more depleted nature of their mantle sequences, the more common presence of podiform chromite deposits, and the crystallization of clinopyroxene before plagioclase which is reflected in the high abundance of wehrlite relative to troctolite in their cumulate sequences. Most of the best-preserved ophiolite complexes in orogenic belts are of this type. Geological reconstructions suggest that most SSZ ophiolites formed during the initial stages of subduction prior to the development of any volcanic arc. Evidence from these ophiolites suggests that the first magma to form in response to intra-oceanic subduction is boninitic in composition, derived by partial melting of hydrated oceanic lithosphere in the ‘mantle wedge’. As subduction proceeds, the magma composition changes to island-arc tholeiite, probably because the hydrated asthenosphere of the ‘mantle wedge’ eventually becomes the dominant mantle source. Other SSZ ophiolites formed in the early stages of back-arc spreading following splitting of a pre-existing arc. Nonetheless the more common mechanism for formation of SSZ ophiolites appears to have been pre-arc rather than back-arc spreading

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Ocean Sciences
Subjects: Q Science > QE Geology
ISSN: 0305-8719
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 02:04

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