The lower oceanic crust largely consists of cumulates, representing crystallization products from melt that erupt on the ocean floor. Removal of interstitial melt from the cumulate minerals is believed to be efficient, driven by compaction. Reaction between percolating melts and cumulate minerals can result in micron-to-meter-scale variations in the phase assemblage and composition. Here we report on the results of a highly detailed petrological study of a sequence of lower crustal gabbroic rocks, using textural and chemical criteria to reconstruct the complex interplay between reactive melts and a highly crystallized gabbroic mush. The exceptionally well-preserved gabbroic sequence was recovered during IODP Legs 304 and 305 at the Atlantis Massif. These gabbros are characterized by high-frequency magmatic refilling of a mush zone, as attested by the cm-m thick succession of magmatic layers, with sharp to diffuse contact. The main gabbroic body (between 300 and 1100 mbsf ) is bounded by two layers of olivine rich troctolites interpreted as pervasively fluxed mantle rocks. Closely spaced sampling of the intervals 930-980 and 1130-1190 mbsf reveal evolved gabbroic lithologies closely interspersed with more primitive members. Olivine and plagioclase consumption is accompanied by progressive crystallization of clinopyroxene (cpx) and later orthopyroxene (opx). Both initially appear as interstitial grains, followed by poikilitic and granophyric textures. The onset of reactive percolation is often associated with deformation, recorded as kink bands in relict olivine and plagioclase and wavy mineral contacts wet by thin cpx layers. As a result, plagioclase and olivine chadacrysts in cpx and opx have resorbed appearance (rounded deformed chadacrysts in large undeformed oikocrysts). Typical chemical signatures of this incomplete resorption are high Ni in pyroxene-hosted low-Fo olivines. Resorbed plagioclases have higher REE and positive Sr correlation with Ba attesting to a progressive equilibration with evolved melts. Simple fractional accumulation in a closed system is unable to fit the observed cpx and opx trends. Large deviations from linear correlations require an influx of primitive material in an ongoing differentiating system. Based on the observed consumption of the primitive assemblage we calculate high rates of assimilation of primitive cumulates. However, the assimilation ratio estimated from cpx trace element contents is much higher than that required to fit the opx trends. These observations attest for a multistage evolution of the sampled rocks: the process starts as near-fractional crystallization, reaching high degrees of crystallinity before melt percolation induces olivine and plagioclase resorption, increasing porosity and crystallizing clinopyroxene. The subsequent crystallization of opx is characterized by a decrease of the assimilation rate and porosity reduction.As such reactive signatures have been reported from other oceanic gabbros, AFC processes in the lower oceanic crust are possibly widespread and may strongly contribute to the compositional systematic observed in global MORB.
Partial assimilation during crystallization of a (gabbroic) pluton: the gabbronoritic zone of the Atlantis core complex / Barbieri, Emiliano; Brunelli, Daniele; Hellebrand, E.; Johnson, K. T.; Paganelli, Emanuele. - In: EOS. - ISSN 0096-3941. - ELETTRONICO. - (2011), pp. Abstract #V31D-2565-..