Abstract

The fractionation range of the cumulate sequence of the allochthonous Bay of Islands ophiolite of the Western Platform of Newfoundland, measured in terms of the FeO(tolal)/MgO ratios of the liquids from which they were derived, encompasses entirely the range of known values exhibited by the overlying dikes and pillow lavas. Cryptic variations within the cumulate sequences are irregular, often inverse, and the crystallization sequences found in the cumulates suggest that they were formed from at least three different basaltic magma types, one of which is unusual in having given rise to co-existing highly aluminous clinopyroxenes and spinels. These features suggest that crystallization of the Bay of Islands plutonic rocks took place in an 'open system' magma chamber that was tapped repeatedly during fractionation to form dike rocks and lavas. Most of the cumulate rocks of the Bay of Islands ophiolite formed according to the crystallization sequence ol–cpx–(opx) or the sequence ol–plag–cpx–(opx). In contrast, the cumulate rocks of the Betts Cove ophiolite, located within the Fleur de Lys orthotectonic zone of the Newfoundland Appalachians, crystallized according to the sequences ol–opx–cpx and ol–cpx–plag. This difference in the nature of the cumulate sequences within the Bay of Islands and Betts Cove ophiolites is also reflected in the Ti characteristics of the basaltic rocks of the ophiolites, and in the morphology of the gabbroic units. Comparison with Mesozoic ophiolites suggests, as a general rule, that within ophiolite cumulate successions there is a tendency for ol–opx sequences to be followed by ol–cpx sequences, and for ol–cpx sequences to be followed by ol–plag sequences. Such a relationship may be related to processes involving remelting of lower-temperature crystallization products in a system open to either continuous or periodic additions of high temperature basaltic liquid. In terms of oceanic structures the Bay of Islands ophiolite corresponds to sonobouy model 2 of Christensen and Salisbury: the basal high velocity layer corresponding to the olivine-gabbro cumulate rocks, and the lower velocity 'gabbroic' layer to the upper part of the olivine-free cumulate sequence and overlying massive uralitized roof gabbro and dike rocks.

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