Petrography, Geochemistry and Physical Properties of a Continuous Extrusive Section from the Sarami Massif, Semail Ophiolite


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Abstract

As opposed to ocean crustal drilling that often yields a discontinuous core, ophiolites provide a unique opportunity to study continuous sections of oceanic basalts. In order to provide high frequency constraints on the construction of the upper oceanic crust, a continuous 280 m thick volcanic transect was sampled in the Semail ophiolite in Oman. The analyzed section is located in the Sarami Massif, in the central part of the ophiolite, and exposed along Wadi Shaffan. A multidisciplinary study was carried out after sampling in the field. Core measurements including porosity, grain density, compressional velocity, magnetic susceptibility and electrical resistivity for over 100 samples from this transect have been made. Geochemical analyses including major, trace and Rare Earth Elements were also performed on 23 selected samples from this transect. The Wadi Shaffan transect appears as composed of two main petrological and geochemical members providing the main lithostratigraphic signal. The boundary between the two sequences is marked by the presence of a massive flow unit equating to the most primitive lava and across which significant changes in mineralogy and texture are observed. The physical properties equally record significant changes. In all, the section is characterized by chemical compositions coherent with that of V1-Geotime volcanism and appears as built through two main sequences of volcanic activity. The magnetic susceptibility profile correlated to geochemical variations present the most detailed evolution allowing to individualize a succession of at least 4 volcanic phases. These phases are interpreted as magmatic cycles characterized by differentiation processes, allowing one to place high frequency constraints on the volcanic behavior of fast spreading ridges. Some of the physical properties also reflect this series of differentiation trends, as noticed in the past from downhole measurements recorded in the context of deep ocean drilling into the crust.

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