Abstract:

Both spilitic and non-spilitic metabasaltic sills are hosted by greenschist-facies metasediments in the SW Scottish Highlands. Spilitization is mainly characterized by enrichment in Na2O, elevated modal plagioclase and epidote segregations. Mapping of the spatial distribution of spilitic metabasalts reveals an ancient sub-sea-floor fluid cell centred on the extrusive Tayvallich Volcanics. Fluid circulation was most extensive at shallow levels where most sills were spilitized. We attribute this to pervasive flow of saline fluid, which was thermally driven by the cooling suite of lava flows and sills. Spilitization below this lithostratigraphic depth was restricted to only a few sills. Their spilitization is largely unrelated to specific properties of these sills (e.g. width, chemistry or host lithology). We conclude that fluid channelling was an intrinsic property of sub-sea-floor fluid flow either at deeper levels or earlier during fluid circulation. By profiling of the size distributions of relic phenocrysts in a partly spilitized sill, we conclude that spilitization proceeds with the symmetric propagation of a spilitization front from the sill margins towards the sill interior. Based on chemical profiling across the margin of an epidote segregation, we conclude that spilitization is associated with chemical transport on scales ranging from 0.1 to 10 m.

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