Rhenium-osmium isotope and elemental behaviour during subduction of oceanic crust and the implications for mantle recycling

Dale, C.W.; Gannoun, A.; Burton, K.W.; Argles, T.W. and Parkinson, I.J. (2007). Rhenium-osmium isotope and elemental behaviour during subduction of oceanic crust and the implications for mantle recycling. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 253(1-2) pp. 211–225.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2006.10.029


This study presents major-, trace-element, and rhenium-osmium (Re-Os) isotope and elemental data for basalts and gabbros from the Zermatt-Saas ophiolite, metamorphosed to eclogite-facies conditions during the Alpine orogeny. Igneous crystallisation of the gabbros occurred at 163.5 +/- 1.8 Ma and both gabbro and basalt were subject to 'peak' pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions of > 2.0 GPa and similar to 600 degrees C at about 40.6 +/- 2.6 Ma.

Despite such extreme P-T conditions, Re-Os isotope and abundance data for gabbroic rocks suggest that there has been no significant loss of either of these elements during eclogite-facies metamorphism. Indeed, Re-187-Os-187 isotope data for both unaltered gabbros and gabbroic eclogites lie on the same best-fit line corresponding to an errorchron age of 160 +/- 6 Ma, indistinguishable from the age of igneous crystallisation. In contrast, metamorphosed basalts do not yield age information; rather most possess Re-187/Os-188 ratios that cannot account for the measured Os-187/Os-188 ratios, given the time since igneous crystallisation. Taken with their low Re contents these data indicate that the basalts have experienced significant Re loss (similar to 50-60%), probably during high-pressure metamorphism. Barium, Rb and K are depleted in both gabbroic and basaltic eclogites. In contrast, there is no evident depletion of U in either lithology.

Many ocean-island basalts (OIB) possess radiogenic Os and Pb isotope compositions that have been attributed to the presence of recycled oceanic crust in the mantle source. Published Re-Os data for high-P metabasaltic rocks alone (consistent with this study) have been taken to suggest that excessive amounts of oceanic crust are required to generate such signatures. However, this study shows that gabbro may exert a strong influence on the composition of recycled oceanic crust. Using both gabbro and basalt (i.e. a complete section of oceanic crust) calculations suggest that the presence of >= 40% of 2 Ga oceanic crust can generate the radiogenic Os compositions seen in some OIB. Furthermore, lower U/Pb ratios in gabbro (compared to basalt) serve to limit the (PbPb)-Pb-206-Pb-204 ratios generated, while having a minimal effect on Os ratios. These results suggest that the incorporation of gabbro into recycling models provides a means of producing a range of OIB compositions having lower (and variable) Pb-206/Ph-204 ratios, but still preserving Os-187/Os-188 compositions comparable to HIMU-type OIB.

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