Ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) materials (e.g., diamond, high-pressure polymorph of chromite) and super-reduced (SuR) phases (e.g., carbides, nitrides, silicides and native metals) have been identified in chromitites and peridotites of the Tibetan and Polar-Urals ophiolites. These unusual assemblages suggest previously unrecognized fluid- or melt-related processes in the Earth’s mantle. However, the origin of the SuR phases, and in particular their relationships with the UHP materials in the ophiolites, are still enigmatic. Studies of a recently recognized SuR mineral system from Cretaceous volcanics on Mt Carmel, Israel, suggest an alternative genesis for the ophiolitic SuR phases. The Mt Carmel SuR mineral system (associated with Ti-rich corundum xenocrysts) appears to reflect the local interaction of mantle-derived CH4 ± H2 fluids with basaltic magmas in the shallow lithosphere (depths of ∼30–100 km). These interactions produced desilication of the magma, supersaturation in Al2O3 leading to rapid growth of corundum, and phase assemblages requiring local oxygen fugacity (fO2) gradually dropping to ∼11 log units below the iron–wüstite (IW) buffer. The strong similarities between this system and the SuR phases and associated Ti-rich corundum in the Tibetan and Polar-Urals ophiolites suggest that the ophiolitic SuR suite probably formed by local influx of CH4 ± H2 fluids within previously subducted peridotites (and included chromitites) during their rapid exhumation from the deep upper mantle to lithospheric levels. In the final stages of their ascent, the recycled peridotites and chromitites were overprinted by a shallow magmatic system similar to that observed at Mt Carmel, producing most of the SuR phases and eventually preserving them within the Tibetan and Polar-Urals ophiolites.

You do not currently have access to this article.