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Abstract

This paper describes a rare occurrence of graphite in non-cratonic mantle rocks. Graphite has been found in garnet clinopyroxenite layers from the External Liguride peridotites that represent slices of subcontinental lithospheric mantle exhumed at the ocean floor in Mesozoic times. The high-pressure assemblage of the pyroxenites is characterized by garnet+Al–Na-rich clinopyroxene, and testifies to an early stage of equilibration at approximately 2.8 GPa and 1100 °C. Graphite occurs as small dispersed euhedral flakes and stacks of flakes. Structural characterization by microRaman spectrometry indicates a highly ordered structure, compatible with a high-temperature mantle origin. C isotope composition of graphite has a typical mantle signature. Fe–Ni–Cu sulphides occur as accessory phases, both as blebs enclosed in silicates (E-Type) and interstitial grains (I-Type). The sulphide assemblage (Ni-free pyrrhotite, pentlandite, Cu–Fe sulphides) mainly reflects subsolidus exsolution from high-temperature Fe–Ni–Cu monosulphide solid solutions with variable Ni (up to 18 wt%) and Cu content (up to 7 wt%). The origin of E- and I-Type sulphides requires the existence of an immiscible Fe–Ni–Cu sulphide liquid, which segregated from the partial melt of the garnet pyroxenite. Graphite precipitation in the pyroxenite was presumably related to the reduction of a more oxidized carbon species interacting with the sulphide liquid as a reducing agent.

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