Evidence for ancient fractional melting, cryptic refertilization and rapid exhumation of Tethyan mantle (Civrari Ophiolite, NW Italy)

Anders McCarthy*, Othmar Müntener

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
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Western Tethyan peridotites exposed in the European Alps show limited amounts of partial melting and mostly fertile compositions. Here we investigate the Civrari Ophiolite (northwestern Italy), which is composed of depleted spinel-harzburgites and serpentinites associated with MOR-type gabbros and basalts. The ultramafic rocks are unique amongst western Tethyan peridotites, showing homogeneous residual compositions after ~ 15% near-fractional melting, lack of pervasive melt percolation and mineral compositions that indicate high-temperature equilibration ≥ 1200 °C. Clinopyroxene chemistry records some of the lowest abundances of Na2O, Ce, and Zr/Hf amongst abyssal peridotites worldwide, suggesting that most abyssal peridotites have been affected by variable degrees of melt retention upon melting or cryptic melt percolation. Locally, cryptic MORB-like melt migration in Civrari peridotites produced orthopyroxene + plagioclase intergrowth around reacted clinopyroxene. These clinopyroxene preserve micron-scale chemical zoning indicating rapid cooling after melt crystallization. 143Nd/144Nd isotopic data indicate that Civrari mantle rocks, gabbros, and basalts are not in isotopic equilibrium. Civrari spinel-peridotites represent a highly radiogenic endmember amongst Western Tethys depleted spinel-peridotites, which together form a partial melting errochron of 273 Ma ± 24 Ma. Ancient near-fractional melting and cryptic melt–rock reaction cause variations in radiogenic εNd and εHf, leading to isotopic heterogeneity of Western Tethys mantle rocks. Such inherited signatures in mantle rocks are most likely to be preserved along (ultra-)slow-spreading systems and ocean–continent transition zones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number69
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number8
Early online date1 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Abyssal peridotite
  • Cryptic refertilization
  • Gabbro
  • Western Alps


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