The isotopic compositions of minerals separated from DSDP Leg 37 samples indicate that the primary, unaltered δ18O of both the intrusive and extrusive rocks are identical (~5.7 ‰, SMOW) to those of unaltered basalts dredged from mid-ocean ridges. All of the analyzed basalts (6 to 10 ‰) have been enriched in 18O due to weathering by cold seawater, whereas the intrusive rocks (2.4 and 5.0 ‰) are depleted of 18O probably as a result of exchange with hot seawater at the mid-ocean ridge. Both kinds of altered rock are also known from the study of dredged materials. 18O is preferentially removed from seawater by the first process, but is added to seawater by the second. Exchange of oxygen between oceanic crust and seawater must be considered in any discussion of the evolution of the isotopic composition of the oceans, because large volumes of rock are altered each year as the oceanic crust is formed.

You do not currently have access to this article.