Much of our understanding of ocean ridges has come from the collection and analysis of glasses recovered from ridge axes. However, applying the resulting methodologies to ophiolite complexes is not straightforward because ophiolites typically experience intense alteration during their passage from ridge to subduction zone to mountain belt. Instead, immobile element proxies for fractionation indices, alkalinity, mantle temperature, mantle flow and subduction addition may be used to classify ophiolite lavas and fingerprint the precise setting of the ridge at which an ophiolite formed. The results can help us recognise and interpret past spreading centres and so make plate tectonic reconstructions.

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