Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 107, Issue 5, pp 807–828 | Cite as

Origin of Neoproterozoic ophiolitic peridotites in south Eastern Desert, Egypt, constrained from primary mantle mineral chemistry

  • Mohamed Zaki Khedr
  • Shoji Arai
Special Issue Gondwana Collision


The ophiolitic peridotites in the Wadi Arais area, south Eastern Desert of Egypt, represent a part of Neoproterozoic ophiolites of the Arabian-Nubian Shield (ANS). We found relics of fresh dunites enveloped by serpentinites that show abundances of bastite after orthopyroxene, reflecting harzburgite protoliths. The bulk-rock chemistry confirmed the harzburgites as the main protoliths. The primary mantle minerals such as orthopyroxene, olivine and chromian spinel in Arais serpentinites are still preserved. The orthopyroxene has high Mg# [=Mg/(Mg + Fe2+)], ~0.923 on average. It shows intra-grain chemical homogeneity and contains, on average, 2.28 wt.% A12O3, 0.88 wt.% Cr2O3 and 0.53 wt.% CaO, similar to primary orthopyroxenes in modern forearc peridotites. The olivine in harzburgites has lower Fo (93−94.5) than that in dunites (Fo94.3−Fo95.9). The Arais olivine is similar in NiO (0.47 wt.% on average) and MnO (0.08 wt.% on average) contents to the mantle olivine in primary peridotites. This olivine is high in Fo content, similar to Mg-rich olivines in ANS ophiolitic harzburgites, because of its residual origin. The chromian spinel, found in harzburgites, shows wide ranges of Cr#s [=Cr/(Cr + Al)], 0.46−0.81 and Mg#s, 0.34−0.67. The chromian spinel in dunites shows an intra-grain chemical homogeneity with high Cr#s (0.82−0.86). The chromian spinels in Arais peridotites are low in TiO2, 0.05 wt.% and YFe [= Fe3+/(Cr + Al + Fe3+)], ~0.06 on average. They are similar in chemistry to spinels in forearc peridotites. Their compositions associated with olivine’s Fo suggest that the harzburgites are refractory residues after high-degree partial melting (mainly ~25−30 % partial melting) and dunites are more depleted, similar to highly refractory peridotites recovered from forearcs. This is in accordance with the partial melting (>20 % melt) obtained by the whole-rock Al2O3 composition. The Arais peridotites have been possibly formed in a sub-arc setting (mantle wedge), where high degrees of partial melting were available during subduction and closing of the Mozambique Ocean, and emplaced in a forearc basin. Their equilibrium temperature based on olivine−spinel thermometry ranges from 650 to 780 °C, and their oxygen fugacity is high (Δlog ƒO2 = 2.3 to 2.8), which is characteristic of mantle-wedge peridotites. The Arais peridotites are affected by secondary processes forming microinclusions inside the dunitic olivine, abundances of carbonates and talc flakes in serpentinites. These microinclusions have been formed by reaction between trapped fluids and host olivine in a closed system. Lizardite and chrysotile, based on Raman analyses, are the main serpentine minerals with lesser antigorite, indicating that serpentines were possibly formed under retrograde metamorphism during exhumation and near the surface at low T (<400 °C).


Olivine Serpentine Mantle Wedge Chrysotile Primitive Mantle 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are indebted to Mr. M. Miura and Dr. T. Mizukami for their help during laser Raman analysis. We are grateful to reviewers: Prof. Hassan Helmy and Dr. Marie Python for their beneficial comments. We thank the editor and Dr. Tamer Abu Alam, guest editor of Gondwana Collision especial issue, for the editorial handling of this manuscript.


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© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth Sciences, Graduate School of Natural Science and TechnologyKanazawa UniversityKanazawaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Geology, Faculty of ScienceKafrelsheikh UniversityKafrelsheikhEgypt

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