Mantle melting beneath Gakkel Ridge (Arctic Ocean): Abyssal peridotite spinel compositions

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The ultraslow spreading Gakkel Ridge represents one of the most extreme spreading environments on the Earth. Full spreading rates there of 0.6-1.3 cm/year and Na8.0 in basalts of 3.3 imply an extremely low degree of mantle partial melting. For this reason, the complementary degree of melting registered by abyssal peridotite melting residues is highly interesting. In a single sample of serpentinized peridotite from Gakkel Ridge, we found spinels which, though locally altered, have otherwise unzoned and thus primary compositions in the cores of the grains. These reflect a somewhat higher degree of melting of the uppermost oceanic mantle than indicated by basalt compositions. Cr/(Cr + Al) ratios of these grains lie between 0.23 and 0.24, which is significantly higher than spinels from peridotites collected along the faster spreading Mid-Atlantic and Southwest Indian Ridges. Crustal thickness at Gakkel Ridge can be calculated from the peridotite spinel compositions, and is thicker than the crustal thickness of less than 4 km estimated from gravity data, or predicted from global correlations between spreading rate and seismically determined crustal thickness. The reason for this unexpected result may be local heterogeneity due to enhanced melt focussing at an ultraslow spreading ridge. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

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Chemical Geology

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