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Understanding felsic veins in gabbros drilled by IODP at Atlantis Bank (Southwest Indian Ridge): Formation, metamorphism, and their role as multifunctional pathways for fluid and mass transfer

Leitung:Prof. Dr. Jürgen Koepke
Bearbeitung:M. Sc. Artur Engelhardt
Förderung durch:DFG

Typical lower crust from slow-spreading mid-ocean ridges, covering about one third of our planet, consists of gabbro which is cut by numerous cm- to dm-sized veins of evolved rocks, so-called "felsic veins". Their mode of formation and their role during hydrothermal alteration of the crust is only poorly investigated. An IODP Expedition drilled recently at Site 1473 on top of the Atlantis Bank (Southwest Indian Ridge, SWIR) into the lower crust, encountering ~ 790 m of massive gabbro, cut by nearly 400 felsic veins, comprising ~1.5% of the drill core, varying in composition from diorites to trondhjemites. The rocks from Hole U1473A offer the unique opportunity for a profound and comprehensive investigation of felsic veins cutting gabbros in slow-spread oceanic crust. The proposed project focusses on three main scientific targets:(1) The objective of theme 1 is to test the model of formation of the felsic veins in Hole U1473A. Do they represent the solidification of melts generated as very last step of MORB differentiation, or are they generated by partial melting of gabbros by percolating fluids, or by liquid immiscibility in an evolved MORB system? Our methodological approach to prove this is bulk rock geochemical analysis, geochemical modeling, and by an experimental simulation of partial melting. (2) Theme 2 focuses on the nature of the transition between latest magmatic processes and the first imprint of hydrothermal activity, which has also the potential to trigger magmatic processes. This theme includes the important question, how deep does water penetrate down oceanic detachment faults. This has broader implications also for the rheology of the just accreted "solid" crust. Key for unravelling these poorly investigated issues in the magmatic-to-metamorphic regime during accretion/uplifting of slow-spread oceanic crust lies in the careful investigation of high-temperature amphiboles, and their inherent information on formation temperature, as well as in the accurate estimation of the wet solidus temperature of the specific, often evolved gabbros from Hole U1473A.(3) Basis of theme 3 is the observation that the felsic veins are much more altered than the host gabbros and that the metamorphic assemblages in the felsic veins suggest varying metamorphic conditions from high temperatures (higher amphibolite facies) down to low temperatures (sub-greenschist facies).These observations raise the questions: what is the role of the felsic veins in the metamorphic development during the hydrothermal cooling of the crust and which are the amounts of fluids and masses transferred along these veins? Key approaches for this topic are the careful analysis of fluid bearing minerals (amphiboles, apatite), accurate temperature estimations by geothermometry in combination with the analysis of the local metamorphic equilibria, estimating the flux of seawater-derived fluids by Sr and oxygen isotope analysis, and thermodynamic computations