Abundant zoned olivine xenocrysts from Early Cretaceous basalts of the Yixian Formation in western Liaoning Province, China, contain critical information about the nature and evolution of the lithospheric mantle of the northern North China Craton. These olivine xenocrysts are large (600−1600 µm), usually rounded and embayed, with well-developed cracks. Their cores have high and uniform forsterite (Fo) contents (88−91), similar to the peridotitic olivine entrained by regional Cenozoic basalts. Their rims have much lower Fo contents (74−82), comparable to phenocrysts (72−81) in the host basalts. These characteristics reveal that the zoned olivine has been disaggregated from mantle xenoliths and thus can be used to trace the underlying lithospheric mantle at the time of basaltic magmatism. The olivine cores have high oxygen isotope compositions (δ18OSMOW = 5.9−7.0‰) relative to the normal mantle value, suggesting that the Early Cretaceous lithospheric mantle was enriched and metasomatized mainly by melts/fluids released from subducted oceanic crust that had experienced low-temperature hydrothermal alteration. Preservation of zoned olivine xenocrysts in the Early Cretaceous basalts indicates that olivine-melt/fluid reaction could have been prevalent in the lithospheric mantle as an important mechanism for the transformation from old refractory (high-Mg) peridotitic mantle to young, fertile (low-Mg), and enriched lithospheric mantle during the early Mesozoic.

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