Characterization of hydrothermal fluids that alter the upper oceanic crust to spilite and epidosite: Fluid inclusion evidence from the Semail (Oman) and Troodos (Cyprus) ophiolites

Richter, Lisa; Diamond, Larryn W. (2022). Characterization of hydrothermal fluids that alter the upper oceanic crust to spilite and epidosite: Fluid inclusion evidence from the Semail (Oman) and Troodos (Cyprus) ophiolites. Geochimica et cosmochimica acta, 319, pp. 220-253. Elsevier Science 10.1016/j.gca.2021.11.012

Richter___Diamond_2022_Characterization_of_hydrothermal_fluids_that_alter_the_upper_oceanic_crust_to_spilite_and_epidosite_Fluid_inclusion_evidence_from_the_Semail__Oman__and_Troodos__Cyprus__ophiolites.pdf - Published Version
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Pervasive alteration of basaltic oceanic crust by heated seawater at greenschist facies conditions produces two contrasting hydrothermal rocks. “Spilites”, consisting of chlorite + albite + quartz ± actinolite ± epidote, occur typically with regional extents. Locally spilites are metasomatically transformed to “epidosites” consisting of epidote + quartz + titanite + hematite or magnetite. Both alteration types have been proposed as markers of deep hydrothermal upflow in sub-seafloor convection cells, and as sources of the ore metals in basalt-hosted seafloor massive sulfide deposits. Little direct evidence is available for the chemical compositions of these fluids in their states deep in the upflow zones prior to their discharge at the seafloor. To better characterize them we have conducted a field, petrographic and fluid inclusion study of the lavas, sheeted dikes and plagiogranites in the Semail ophiolite, with supporting samples from the Troodos ophiolite. Our results show that both the spilite- and epidosite-forming fluids were single-phase aqueous liquids during the hydrothermal alteration. At some sites their salinity is 3.1–3.2 wt.% NaCleq, which we take to represent the chlorinity of Cenomanian seawater in the Semail realm. At other sites salinities are as low as 2.4 wt.% NaCleq or as high as 5.7 wt.% NaCleq, attributable to liquid–vapor separation and partial remixing deep in the crust along the dew curve of seawater, prior to ascent of the fluids to the sites of fluid inclusion trapping. Hypersaline brines, often accompanied by vapor, are restricted to plagiogranites in both the Semail and Troodos ophiolites and they represent magmatic–hydrothermal fluids that pre-date and are genetically unrelated to the spilite and epidosite alteration. The volcanostratigraphic locations of the samples constrain their maximum depths to 1470–3600 m below seafloor during alteration. The range of possible fluid trapping pressures for all samples is 31–68 MPa. Trapping temperatures vary between sites from 145 to 440 °C for spilite fluids and 255 to 435 °C for epidosite fluids. Quantitative analyses of 12 elements in individual fluid inclusions by LA-ICP-MS define the chemical characters of the two alteration fluids. The Br/Cl ratio in the spilite fluid is the same as in modern seawater and the other elements fit expectations from seawater–basalt experiments at elevated temperature. Accordingly, concentrations of Li, B, Na, Cl, K, Br and Sr in the spilite fluid match those in modern black-smoker vent fluids in basaltic crust. Exceptions are Ca and Fe, which are enriched in the spilite fluid. As these elements may precipitate below or at the seafloor prior to vent sampling, we conclude that the spilite fluids are plausible feeders of basalt-hosted black-smoker vents. The epidosite fluid has broadly similar elemental concentrations to the spilite fluid, but vastly lower Fe, reflecting the highly oxidized state of epidosites. This suggests that epidosite fluids are incapabable of forming basalt-hosted seafloor massive sulfide deposits.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geological Sciences

UniBE Contributor:

Diamond, Larryn William


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology




Elsevier Science




Larryn William Diamond

Date Deposited:

09 Mar 2022 18:38

Last Modified:

09 Mar 2022 18:38

Publisher DOI:





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