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Lithospheric mantle evolution in the Afro-Arabian domain: Insights from Bir Ali mantle xenoliths (Yemen)

By Paolo Sgualdo, Kimberley Aviado, Luigi Beccaluva, Gianluca Bianchini, Janne Blichert-Toft, David G. Graham Julie G. Bryce, Claudio Natali and Franca Siena

Abstract

Detailed petrological and geochemical investigations of an extensive sampling of mantle xenoliths from the Neogene–Quaternary Bir Ali diatreme (southern Yemen) indicate that the underlying lithospheric mantle consists predominantly of medium- to fine-grained (often foliated) spinel-peridotites (85–90%) and spinel-pyroxenites (10–15%) showing thermobarometric estimates in the P–T range of 0.9–2.0 GPa and 900–1150 °C. Peridotites, including lherzolites, harzburgites and dunites delineate continuous chemical, modal and mineralogical variations compatible with large extractions of basic melts occurring since the late Proterozoic (~ 2 Ga, according to Lu–Hf model ages). Pyroxenites may represent intrusions of subalkaline basic melts interacting and equilibrated with the host peridotite. Subsequent metasomatism has led to modal changes, with evidence of reaction patches and clinopyroxene and spinel destabilization, as well as formation of new phases (glass, amphibole and feldspar). These changes are accompanied by enrichment of the most incompatible elements and isotopic compositions. 143Nd/144Nd ranges from 0.51419 to 0.51209 (εNd from + 30.3 to − 10.5), 176Hf/177Hf from 0.28459 to 0.28239 (εHf from + 64.4 to − 13.6), and 208Pb/204Pb from 36.85 to 41.56, thus extending from the depleted mantle (DM) towards the enriched OIB mantle (EM and HIMU) components. 3He/4He (R/RA) ratios vary from 7.2 to 7.9 with He concentrations co-varying with the most incompatible element enrichment, in parallel with metasomatic effects. These metasomatic events, particularly effective in harzburgites and dunites, are attributable to the variable interaction with alkaline basic melts related to the general extensional and rifting regime affecting the East Africa–Arabian domain during the Cenozoic. In this respect, Bir Ali mantle xenoliths resemble those occurring along the Arabian margins and the East Africa Rift system, similarly affected by alkaline metasomatism, whereas they are distinctly different from xenoliths located within the Ethiopian–Yemen continental flood basalt province that are pervasively refertilized by plume-related subalkaline melts

Topics: Mantle xenoliths, Lithosphere evolution, Bir Ali (Yemen), Afro-Arabian domain
Year: 2015
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.tecto.2014.11.
OAI identifier: oai:iris.unife.it:11392/2326575
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