An insight into the first stages of the Ferrar magmatism: ultramafic cumulates from Harrow Peaks, northern Victoria Land, Antarctica

  • Beatrice Pelorosso
  • Costanza BonadimanEmail author
  • Theodoros Ntaflos
  • Michel Gregoire
  • Silvia Gentili
  • Alberto Zanetti
  • Massimo Coltorti
Original Paper


A group of ultramafic xenoliths hosted in Cenozoic hypabyssal rocks from Harrow Peaks (northern Victoria Land, Antarctica) show textural and geochemical features far removed from anything previously observed in mantle xenoliths of this region and elsewhere in Antarctica. They consist of spinel-bearing lherzolites and harzburgites, characterised by a predominant equigranular texture with orthopyroxene modal contents remarkably higher in lherzolites (18–26 volume%) with respect to the harzburgite (13 vol%), one orthopyroxenite, and three composite xenoliths. The latter are formed by an olivine-dominant assemblage (olivine > 70%) crosscut by large monomineralic (amphibole or clinopyroxene) or bimineralic (amphibole + clinopyroxene) veins. No significant correlation was observed between the lithology and the Fo content (90.21–82.81) of olivine, suggesting that these rocks could be derived from a cumulus process. The presence of the orthopyroxenite suggests that the inferred melt/s from which they stemmed was close (or even above) to silica saturation. Based on major and trace-element mineral/melt and mineral/mineral equilibrium modelling, these rocks were formed by progressive extraction of olivine from a high magnesium (Mg = 72)—high temperature (~ 1300 °C) melt following a very short fractionation line. Thermobarometric results indicate the stationing of Harrow Peaks cumulates in the P field of 1.3 ± 0.2 (dunites)—0.5 ± 0.2 (orthopyroxenite) GPa. These values well match the crust/mantle boundary (Moho) of the region. The combined geochemical and petrological data suggest that Harrow Peaks melts could be related to the initial stage of the Jurassic Ferrar magmatism, whose deep cumulates were subsequently affected by the Cenozoic alkaline metasomatism, widely detected in the northern Victoria Land lithosphere and responsible for the formation of the late amphibole/amphibole + clinopyroxene veins.


Ultramafic xenoliths High-Mg magmatic olivines Orthopyroxenite Karoo–Ferrar large igneous province 



We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of the manuscript. In particular, we would thank Reviewer #1 for the detailed and helpful comments, which helped us to enrich the discussion of our results. In addition, the valuable remarks and editorial handling improved the clarity of our arguments and the presentation of this manuscript. The authors would like to thank Barbara Galassi and Steve Deforie (Brighton, UK) for checking the English language in this paper. This work was funded by PNRA (National Programme Antarctic Research) project: 2013-2015 “Hydrous phases stability in the lithospheric mantle of the large continental rift systems: a petrological/experimental study of the mantle xenoliths and lavas of the Northern Victoria Land (principal investigator; C.B). B.P was supported by MIUR-2015 20158A9CBM Grant (principal investigator: C.B).

Supplementary material

410_2019_1579_MOESM1_ESM.tif (18 mb)
Figure S1. Thin sections of Harrow Peaks mantle xenoliths, which are mainly characterised by equigranular textural type. HP143, HP124, HP121composite xenoliths (a, b, c) consist of large clinopyroxene and amphibole veins cross-cutting a dunitic matrix. a) HP143 with evident spinel trails. Important to note that the real modal content of spinel do not correspond to the black areas as in the thin section. b) HP124 is characterised by dunitic matrix and the thinnest vein containing also phlogopite. c) HP121 with the largest monomineralic vein that has been partly removed for crystallochemical investigations (Gentili et al. 2015). Harzburgite HP144 (d) and high clinopyroxene lherzolite (e). High orthopyroxene lherzolites (f, g) and orthopyroxenite (h). (TIFF 18473 kb)
410_2019_1579_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 1201 kb)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Fisica e Scienze della TerraUniversità di FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Department of Lithospheric ResearchUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.GET, CNRS –CNES –IRD - Université de Toulouse IIIToulouseFrance
  4. 4.Dipartimento di Fisica e GeologiaUniversità di PerugiaPerugiaItaly
  5. 5.CNR-IGG, Sezione di PaviaPaviaItaly

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