Rhenium-osmium isotope and elemental behaviour during subduction of oceanic crust and the implications for mantle recycling

C. W. Dale*, A. Gannoun, K. W. Burton, T. W. Argles, I. J. Parkinson

*Corresponding author for this work

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

68 Citations (Scopus)


This study presents major-, trace-element, and rhenium-osmium (Re-Os) isotope and elemental data for basalts and gabbros from the Zermatt-Saas ophiolite, metamorphosed to eclogite-facies conditions during the Alpine orogeny. Igneous crystallisation of the gabbros occurred at 163.5 ± 1.8 Ma and both gabbro and basalt were subject to 'peak' pressure-temperature (P-T) conditions of > 2.0 GPa and ~ 600 °C at about 40.6 ± 2.6 Ma. Despite such extreme P-T conditions, Re-Os isotope and abundance data for gabbroic rocks suggest that there has been no significant loss of either of these elements during eclogite-facies metamorphism. Indeed, 187Re-187Os isotope data for both unaltered gabbros and gabbroic eclogites lie on the same best-fit line corresponding to an errorchron age of 160 ± 6 Ma, indistinguishable from the age of igneous crystallisation. In contrast, metamorphosed basalts do not yield age information; rather most possess 187Re/188Os ratios that cannot account for the measured 187Os/188Os ratios, given the time since igneous crystallisation. Taken with their low Re contents these data indicate that the basalts have experienced significant Re loss (∼ 50-60%), probably during high-pressure metamorphism. Barium, Rb and K are depleted in both gabbroic and basaltic eclogites. In contrast, there is no evident depletion of U in either lithology. Many ocean-island basalts (OIB) possess radiogenic Os and Pb isotope compositions that have been attributed to the presence of recycled oceanic crust in the mantle source. Published Re-Os data for high-P metabasaltic rocks alone (consistent with this study) have been taken to suggest that excessive amounts of oceanic crust are required to generate such signatures. However, this study shows that gabbro may exert a strong influence on the composition of recycled oceanic crust. Using both gabbro and basalt (i.e. a complete section of oceanic crust) calculations suggest that the presence of ≥ 40% of 2 Ga oceanic crust can generate the radiogenic Os compositions seen in some OIB. Furthermore, lower U/Pb ratios in gabbro (compared to basalt) serve to limit the 206Pb/204Pb ratios generated, while having a minimal effect on Os ratios. These results suggest that the incorporation of gabbro into recycling models provides a means of producing a range of OIB compositions having lower (and variable) 206Pb/204Pb ratios, but still preserving 187Os/188Os compositions comparable to HIMU-type OIB.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-225
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2007


  • OIB
  • Osmium
  • Recycling
  • Rhenium
  • Subduction


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