Submarine metamorphism of gabbros from the Mid-Cayman rise: An oxygen isotopic study

Emi Ito, Robert N. Clayton

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Oxygen isotopic compositions of minerals in 22 samples of submarine gabbros were determined. The gabbros were collected using the submersible Alvin from the 700 m vertical section of the rift-valley wall of the Mid-Cayman spreading center. Our study indicates that in the Mid-Cayman Rise seawater barely reached the bottom of the plutonic layer. Abundant seawater penetration (water/rock mass ratio > 1) was limited to the upper part of the plutonic layer. From the observed oxygen isotopic compositions of coexisting minerals, and from the experimental and empirical determinations of equilibrium fractionation of oxygen isotopes for mineral-water, and mineral-mineral pairs, we show the following: (1) pyroxene and olivine did not exchange oxygen with seawater, (2) plagioclase is in isotopic disequilibrium with pyroxene; (3) the rate of oxygen exchange in plagioclase was not slowed by the absence of cation exchange; (4) plagioclase and amphibole have exchanged oxygen with seawater or isotopically modified seawater (δ18O ≤ 3%.); and (5) amphibole has exchanged or acquired (during formation) hydrogen from seawater at 380°C ≤ T ≤ 600°C. The decrease in extent of isotopic exchange of plagioclase and the decrease in amphibole abundance with depth indicate that seawater flux decreased rapidly with depth (water/rock mass ratio falling from 1.7 to 0.2 over a 300 m interval).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-546
Number of pages12
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1983

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