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Garnet-bearing ultramafic rocks from the Dominican Republic: Fossil mantle plume fragments in an ultra high pressure oceanic complex?

Gazel Dondi, Esteban; Abbott, Richard N.; Draper, Grenville

Ultra high pressure (UHP) garnet-bearing ultramafic rocks from the Dominican Republic may represent the only known example where such rocks were exhumed at an ocean–ocean convergent plate boundary, and where the protolith crystallized from a UHP magma (> 3.2 GPa, > 1500 °C). This study focuses on the petrology and geochemistry of one of the ultramafic lithologies, the pegmatitic garnet-clinopyroxenite (garnet + clinopyroxene + spinel + corundum + hornblende). Three distinct types of garnet were recognized: Type-1 garnet (low Ca, high Mg) is interpreted as near magmatic (P > 3.2 GPa, > 1500 °C). Type-1′ garnet (high Ca, low Mg) is interpreted as having formed approximately isochemically from magmatic high-Al clinopyroxene. Type-2 garnet (intermediate Ca, high Mg, and low Fe + Mn) formed together with hornblende as a result of late, low-pressure retrograde hydration. Clinopyroxene is close to diopside–hedenbergite (Mg# ~ 88) and metasomatized by arc-related fluids. Spinel and corundum occur as microinclusions in type-1 and type-1′ garnets in the only reported natural occurrence of coexisting garnet + spinel + corundum, indicative of very high pressure. Chondrite-normalized REEs (rare earth elements) of the garnets show humped or weakly sinusoidal patterns, typically associated with garnet inclusions in diamond and garnet in kimberlite that crystallized at UHP conditions. These humped to weakly sinusoidal REE patterns developed as the result of interaction with a light REE-enriched metasomatic fluid. Partitioning of REEs between type-1′ and type-1 garnets is consistent with the former having inherited its REEs from a high-Al clinopyroxene predecessor. The partitioning preserves a record of near-solidus temperatures (~ 1475 °C). Petrology and phase relationships independently suggest near-solidus conditions > 1500 °C (the highest temperature conditions reported in a UHP orogenic setting), providing evidence for an origin in a mantle plume. Therefore, the Dominican ultramafic rocks may represent the only example of exhumed "fossil fragments" of mantle plume in an orogenic setting (oceanic or continental).

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Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory
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August 21, 2012