Coexisting serpentine and quartz from carbonate-bearing serpentinized peridotite in the Samail Ophiolite, Oman

Streit, Elisabeth Elaine; Kelemen, Peter B.; Eiler, John

Tectonically exposed mantle peridotite in the Oman Ophiolite is variably serpentinized and carbonated. Networks of young carbonate veins are prevalent in highly serpentinized peridotite, particularly near low-temperature alkaline springs emanating from the peridotite. An unusual feature in some samples is the coexistence of serpentine and quartz, which is not commonly observed in serpentinites. This assemblage is unstable with respect to serpentine + talc or talc + quartz under most conditions. Serpentine in the carbonated serpentinites in this study is more iron rich than in most serpentinites reported in previous studies, and samples with co-existing quartz contain the most iron-rich serpentines. Calculations of thermodynamic equilibria in the MgO–SiO2–H2O–CO2 system suggest that serpentine + quartz may be a stable assemblage at low temperatures (e.g., <~15–50 °C) and is stabilized to higher temperatures by preferential cation substitutions in serpentine over talc. Based on these calculations, serpentine + quartz assemblages could result from serpentinization at near-surface temperatures. Clumped isotope thermometry of carbonate veins yields temperatures within error of the observed temperatures in Oman groundwater for all samples analyzed, while the δ^18O of water calculated to be in equilibrium with carbonate precipitated at those temperatures is within error of the observed isotopic composition of Oman groundwater for the majority of samples analyzed. As groundwater geochemistry suggests that carbonate precipitation and serpentinization occur concomitantly, this indicates that both hydration and carbonation of peridotite are able to produce extensive alteration at the relatively low temperatures of the near-surface weathering environment.

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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

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Earth and Environmental Sciences
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May 22, 2013


A supplementary table of the electron microprobe calibration setup for serpentine analysis is included.
A table of electron microprobe analyses analyzed for this article is available in Academic Commons at