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The Monte Maggiore peridotite represents subcontinental mantle that underwent tectonic and magmatic evolution during the rifting stage of the Jurassic Ligurian Tethys oceanic basin. Pristine garnet peridotites were first equilibrated under spinel-facies conditions. During continental extension they were diffusely infiltrated by asthenospheric melts that consisted of single fractional melt increments (6% melting degree) showing depleted MORB (mid-ocean ridge basalt) signature. Diffuse melt migration of undersaturated melts at spinel-facies conditions formed reactive spinel peridotites, and melt impregnation at plagioclase-facies conditions formed impregnated plagioclase peridotites. Further focused melt migration occurred within high-porosity dunite channels.

Subsequently, the single melt fractions underwent coalescence to form aggregate MORB melts that were intruded into shallow magma chambers. They underwent fractional crystallization and formation of variably evolved Mg-rich and Fe–Ti-rich magmas. Mg- and Fe–Ti-gabbroic dykes were formed by intrusion along fractures of these magmas. Melt-percolated peridotites and gabbroic rocks are isotopically homogeneous, suggesting that melts which percolated and intruded the mantle lithosphere derived from isotopically homogeneous asthenospheric mantle sources.

The magmatic cycle, that is, asthenosphere partial melting, lithosphere diffuse melt percolation and dyke intrusion, occurred during Late Jurassic times (163–150 Ma) and represents the youngest events of lithosphere–asthenosphere interaction so far documented in ophiolitic peridotites from the Ligurian Tethys. The Ligurian Tethys basin never reached a mature oceanic stage, that is, the genetic link between exposed oceanic crustal rocks and refractory mantle peridotites.

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