Abstract

We present a study of the serpentinized peridotites of the Ghadir-Mohagar-Ambaut area, Egypt. They represent the mantle section of a dismembered ophiolite, tectonically emplaced over a volcanosedimentary succession of island arc assemblages. The serpentinites are variably metamorphosed from greenschist to lower-amphibolite facies, metasomatized, and altered, including development of talc-carbonate and quartz-carbonate rocks, especially along shear zones and fault planes. Nevertheless, some samples contain relics of primary chromian spinel, olivine, and pyroxenes. Relict textures and whole-rock compositions (Mg#[molar Mg/(Mg+Fe2+)]=0.920.93, with low Al2O3 and CaO contents) both suggest harzburgite protoliths. The high Mg# and Ni contents of relict olivine and the high Cr# (molar Cr/(Cr+Al)) of fresh chromian spinel cores indicate that the protoliths experienced high degrees of partial melt extraction (∼34%–39%), well beyond the limit for exhaustion of clinopyroxene from the residue and consistent with formation in a forearc suprasubduction zone environment. The serpentinized ultramafic rocks in the study area are divided into massive serpentinite, serpentinite-hosted magnesite masses, and magnesite-filled veins. The carbonation and formation of magnesite ores took place through two metasomatic stages; the first is represented by the magnesite masses and associated with deep-seated metasomatism and alteration during serpentinization, whereas the second, vein-forming stage postdates serpentinization and occurred during obduction of the ophiolite. The differences in chemical composition between massive serpentinite and serpentinite-hosted magnesite masses suggest leaching of some elements and enrichment of others during carbonation; MgO, Cr, and Ni are depleted, whereas Fe2O3, CaO, MnO, Nb, Ba, Cu, Pb, Sr, and Zn are enriched in the serpentinite-hosted magnesite masses, relative to the host massive serpentinite.

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