Harzburgite is a common rock type in ophiolites and alpine peridotites. It is considered to be typical of a residual mantle mineralogy, i.e., material left behind after periods of extensive mantle melting and melt–rock and fluid–rock interactions that produce a variety of basaltic melts. The processes by which these melts and residua are produced are complicated; therefore, to fully understand them, it is necessary to undertake detailed and integrated field, petrographic, and geochemical studies of large exposures of mantle material as part of the investigative process. Such a study in the Bay of Islands ophiolite exposed in the Lewis Hills of Newfoundland has enabled the identification of four major types of harzburgite, which represent examples of a complete spectrum of this rock type. Depleted, residual harzburgite and associated dunite, with positive-sloping rare earth element patterns, may develop U-shaped rare earth element patterns and a visible orthopyroxene enrichment by the introduction of a component of high-Mg, quartz-normative melt, or a hydrous fluid component with a high Si/Al ratio. Conversely, U-shaped rare earth element patterns and apparent orthopyroxene depletion may occur by the addition of low-Si/Al, hydrous fluid. Such enrichments and depletions of orthopyroxene by solution–precipitation reactions may result not only in the variety of harzburgite types, which on partial melting might produce a range of melt products, but also in fronts of harzburgite migrating through the mantle.

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