Influence of subsolidus processes on the chromium number in spinel in ultramafic rocks

Abstract

The chromium number of spinel Cr#sp (atomic ratio of Cr/(Cr+Al)) is an important geochemical parameter for the estimation of the degree of partial melting, temperatures, and provenance in peridotites. In this study, a model has been developed in order to determine the effect of subsolidus reactions on the Cr#sp in ultramafic rocks. The final model includes temperature-dependent distribution coefficients of relevant reactions as well as solubility data and has been applied to lithologies common in mid-ocean ridge settings. Significant changes in the Cr#sp are predicted from the application of this model during cooling from 1300 to 800°C at mantle pressures. For spinel lherzolites and harzburgites, the Cr#sp is predicted to decrease proportional to the absolute values of the Cr#sp at (constantly) increasing spinel mass. Cpx-dunites show the same trend, although to a lower extent. Websterites show a different behavior with a slight increase in the Cr#sp due to their lack of olivine. Modal abundance of spinel correlates with the magnitude in Cr#sp change, too. Finally, these results were tested for possible effects on the calculated degree of partial melting as function of the Cr#sp. Application of the Cr#sp from a peridotite equilibrated down to 800°C would result in an underestimation of only 1.5 % in the degree of melting, justifying the use of Cr#sp for estimations of this parameter.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The term \(- \Updelta N\!B_{{\rm Cr}_2{\rm O}_3}^{{\rm sp}}\) is the amount of \(\Updelta N\!B_{{\rm Al}_2{\rm O}_3}^{{\rm sp}}\) due to the K opx/sp D equilibrium reaction (2), and therefore this term has to be subtracted in the last equation.

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Acknowledgments

We would like to thank Zoran Jovanovic for discussion. Helpful comments from Dmitri Ionov and an anonymous reviewer are greatfully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Martin Voigt.

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Communicated by J. Hoefs.

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Voigt, M., von der Handt, A. Influence of subsolidus processes on the chromium number in spinel in ultramafic rocks. Contrib Mineral Petrol 162, 675–689 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00410-011-0618-3

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Keywords

  • Chromium number
  • Spinel
  • Ultramafic rocks
  • Partial melting
  • Mid-ocean ridges