Textural and Geochemical Evidence for Magnetite Production upon Antigorite Breakdown During Subduction

Vieira Duarte, Joana F; Piccoli, Francesca; Pettke, Thomas; Hermann, Jörg (2021). Textural and Geochemical Evidence for Magnetite Production upon Antigorite Breakdown During Subduction. Journal of petrology, 62(10) Oxford University Press 10.1093/petrology/egab053

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Magnetite stability in ultramafic systems undergoing subduction plays a major role in controlling redox states of the fluids liberated upon dehydration reactions, as well as of residual rocks. Despite their relevance for the evaluation of the redox conditions, the systematics and geochemistry of oxide minerals have remained poorly constrained in subducted ultramafic rocks. Here, we present a detailed petrological and geochemical study of magnetite in hydrous ultramafic rocks from Cerro del Almirez (Spain). Our results indicate that prograde to peak magnetite, ilmenite–hematite solid solution minerals, and sulfides coexist in both antigorite-serpentinite and chlorite-harzburgite at c. 670 °C and 1·6 GPa, displaying successive crystallization stages, each characterized by specific mineral compositions. In antigorite-serpentinite, magnetite inherited from seafloor hydration and recrystallized during subduction has moderate Cr (Cr2O3 < 10 wt%) and low Al and V concentrations. In chlorite-harzburgite, polygonal magnetite is in textural equilibrium with olivine, orthopyroxene, chlorite, pentlandite, and ilmenite–hematite solid solution minerals. The Cr2O3 contents of this magnetite are up to 19 wt%, higher than any magnetite data obtained for antigorite-serpentinite, along with higher Al and V, derived from antigorite breakdown, and lower Mn concentrations. This polygonal magnetite displays conspicuous core to rim zoning as recognized on elemental maps. Cr–V–Al–Fe3+ mass-balance calculations, assuming conservative behavior of total Fe3+ and Al, were employed to model magnetite compositions and modes in the partially dehydrated product chlorite-harzburgite starting from antigorite-serpentinite, as well as in the serpentinite protolith starting from the chlorite-harzburgite. The model results disagree with measured Cr and V compositions in magnetite from antigorite-serpentinites and chlorite-harzburgites. This indicates that these two rock types had different initial bulk compositions and thus cannot be directly compared. Our mass-balance analysis also reveals that new magnetite formation is required across the antigorite-breakdown reaction to account for the mass conservation of fluid-immobile elements such as Cr–V–Al–Fe3+. Complete recrystallization and formation of new magnetite in equilibrium with peak olivine (Mg# 89–91), chlorite (Mg# ∼95), orthopyroxene (Mg# 90–91), and pentlandite buffer the released fluid to redox conditions of ∼1 log unit above the quartz–fayalite–magnetite buffer. This is consistent with the observation that the Fe–Ti solid solution minerals (hemo-ilmenite and ilmeno-hematite) crystallized as homogeneous phases and exsolved upon exhumation and cooling. We conclude that antigorite-dehydration reaction fluids carry only a moderate redox budget and therefore may not be the only reason why the magmas are comparatively oxidized.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Vieira Duarte, Joana Filipa, Piccoli, Francesca, Pettke, Thomas, Hermann, Jörg


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Oxford University Press


[4] Swiss National Science Foundation




Thomas Pettke

Date Deposited:

29 Nov 2021 08:36

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:54

Publisher DOI:






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