Ultramafic clasts from the South Chamorro serpentine mud volcano reveal a polyphase serpentinization history of the Mariana forearc mantle Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Serpentine seamounts located on the outer half of the pervasively fractured Mariana forearc provide an excellent window into the forearc devolatilization processes, which can strongly influence the cycling of volatiles and trace elements in subduction zones. Serpentinized ultramafic clasts recovered from an active mud volcano in the Mariana forearc reveal microstructures, mineral assemblages and compositions that are indicative of a complex polyphase alteration history. Petrologic phase relations and oxygen isotopes suggest that ultramafic clasts were serpentinized at temperatures below 200 °C. Several successive serpe ntinization events represented by different vein generations with distinct trace element contents can be recognized. Measured Rb/Cs ratios are fairly uniform ranging between 1 and 10, which is consistent with Cs mobilization from sediments at lower temperatures and lends further credence to the low-temperature conditions proposed in models of the thermal structure in forearc settings. Late veins show lower fluid mobile element (FME) concentrations than early veins, suggesting a deacreasing influence of fluid discharge from sediments on the composition of the serpentinizing fluids. The continuous microfabric and mineral chemical evolution observed in the ultramafic clasts may have implications as to the origin and nature of the serpentinizing fluids. We hypothesize that opal and smectite dehydration produce quartz-saturated fluids with high FME contents and Rb/Cs between 1 and 4 that cause the early pervasive serpentinization. The partially serpentinized material may then be eroded from the basal plane of the suprasubduction mantle wedge. Serpentinization continued but the interacting fluids did not carry the slab-flux signature, either because FME were no longer released from the slab, or due to an en route loss of FMEs. Late chrysotile veins that document the increased access of fluids in a now fluid-dominated regime are characterized by reduced trace element contents with a slightly increased Rb/Cs ratio near 10. This lack of geochemical slab signatures consistently displayed in all late serpentinization stages may indicate that the slab-derived fluids have been completely reset (i.e. the FME excesses were removed) by continued water-rock reaction within the subduction channel. The final stage of diapiric rise of matrix and clasts in the conduits is characterized by brucite-dominated alteration of the clasts from the clast rim inward (independent of the intra-clast fabric relations), which corresponds to re-equilibration with alkaline, low-silica activity fluids in the rising mud.

publication date

  • June 2015

published in