Hydrothermal serpentinization of peridotite within the oceanic crust: Experimental investigations of mineralogy and major element chemistry

D. R. Janecky, William E Seyfried

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Mantle derived ultramafic rocks form a significant portion of lithosphere created at slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges. These rocks are ubiquitously serpentinized, due at least in part to interaction with seawater, at temperatures below approximately 500°C. To evaluate reaction pathways, primary mineral reaction rates, major element exchange between rock and solution, and alteration mineral formation, interaction of equigranular peridotites with seawater and seawater derived solutions has been investigated experimentally at 200°C and 300°C, 500 bars. Seawater chemistry changed greatly during the experiments. Initially, the concentrations of Mg, Ca, and SO4 decreased, as did pH. During Iherzolite experiments, however, the trend of dissolved Ca concentrations reversed with time, first decreasing, then increasing. pH also increased during the latter part of the experiments. Mg, Ca, SiO2, Fe, Cl and ΣCO2 decreased as pH increased FeII oxidation is shown to be affected by solution pH, being greatly enhanced under alkaline conditions. Resulting solution composition and reaction pathway are dependent on initial solution composition, particularly initial concentrations of Mg in solution. Consistent with changes in solution chemistry, the peridotites were significantly altered. Substantial amounts of olivine, relatively minor amounts of diopside and all the enstatite dissolved. Alteration products included serpentine + anhydrite ± magnesium hydroxide sulfate hydrate ± magnetite ± brucite ± tremolite-actinolite or truscottite. From the changes in solution chemistry and examination of the alteration products, the reaction rates (moles per unit time) of olivine to enstatite to diopside during 300°C Iherzolite-seawater experiments are estimated to be approximately 1.0/1.0/0.1. These rates correspond to constant surface area rates of 1.5:5:1 (moles per unit time per unit surface area), which are consistent with experimental data on the dissolution kinetics of these minerals and emphasize the importance of initial rock texture on reaction rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1357-1378
Number of pages22
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1986


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