Abstract

Exceptional outcrops recently exposed in the Koniambo massif allow the study of the serpentine sole of the peridotite nappe of New Caledonia (southwest Pacific Ocean). Many magnesite veins are observed, with characteristics indicating that they were emplaced during pervasive top-to-the-southwest shear deformation. The oxygen isotope composition of magnesite is homogeneous (27.4‰ < δ18O < 29.7‰), while its carbon isotope composition varies widely (16.7‰ < δ13C < 8.5‰). These new data document an origin of magnesite from meteoric fluids. Laterization on top of the peridotite nappe and carbonation along the sole appear to represent complementary records of meteoric water infiltration. Based on the syn-kinematic character of magnesite veins, we propose that syn-laterization tectonic activity has enhanced water infiltration, favoring the exportation of leached elements like Mg, which has led to widespread carbonation along the serpentine sole. This calls for renewed examination of other magnesite-bearing ophiolites worldwide in order to establish whether active tectonics is commonly a major agent for carbonation.

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