Geochemistry of Atlantis Massif crust

The Atlantis Massif (Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 30°N) is an oceanic core complex marked by distinct variations in crustal architecture, deformation and metamorphism over distances of at least 5 km. We report Sr and Nd isotope data and Rare Earth Element (REE) concentrations of gabbroic and ultramafic rocks drilled at the central dome (IODP Hole 1309D) and recovered by submersible from the southern ridge of the massif that underlie the peridotite-hosted Lost City Hydrothermal Field. Systematic variations between the two areas document variations in seawater penetration and degree of fluid-rock interaction during uplift and emplacement of the massif and hydrothermal activity associated with the formation of Lost City. Homogeneous Sr and Nd isotope compositions of the gabbroic rocks from the two areas (87Sr/86Sr: 0.70261-0.70429 and epsilon-Nd: +9.1 to +12.1) indicate an origin from a depleted mantle. At the central dome, serpentinized peridotites are rare and show elevated seawater-like Sr isotope compositions related to serpentinization at shallow crustal levels, whereas unaltered mantle isotopic compositions preserved in the gabbroic rocks attest to limited seawater interaction at depth. This portion of the massif remained relatively unaffected by Lost City hydrothermal activity. In contrast, pervasive alteration and seawater-like Sr and Nd isotope compositions of serpentinites at the southern wall (87Sr/86Sr: 0.70885-0.70918; epsilon-Nd: -4.7 to +11.3) indicate very high fluid-rock ratios (~20 and up to 10**6) and enhanced fluid fluxes during hydrothermal circulation. Our studies show that Nd isotopes are most sensitive to high fluid fluxes and are thus an important geochemical tracer for quantification of water-rock ratios in hydrothermal systems. Our results suggest that high fluxes and long-lived serpentinization processes may be critical to the formation of Lost City-type systems and that normal faulting and mass wasting in the south facilitate seawater penetration necessary to sustain hydrothermal activity.



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