Mineral relationships in gabbroic rocks from fracture zones of Indian Ocean ridges; evidence for extensive fractionation, parental diversity, and boundary-layer recrystallization

Bloomer, SH, Natland JH, Fisher RL.  1989.  Mineral relationships in gabbroic rocks from fracture zones of Indian Ocean ridges; evidence for extensive fractionation, parental diversity, and boundary-layer recrystallization. Magmatism in the ocean basins. 42( Saunders AD, Norry MJ, Eds.).:107-124., London, United Kingdom (GBR): Geological Society of London, London


05A:Igneous and metamorphic petrology, basalts, Cenozoic, chain silicates, clinopyroxene, Cretaceous, dredged samples, Eocene, evolution, fractional crystallization, fracture zones, gabbros, grain size, igneous rocks, Indian Ocean, magmas, Mesozoic, mid-ocean ridge basalts, mid-ocean ridges, mineral composition, olivine gabbro, orthopyroxene, Paleogene, petrology, plutonic rocks, pyroxene group, recrystallization, silicates, southwest indian ridge, Tertiary, volcanic rocks


Evolved two-pyroxene gabbros and ferrogabbros predominate in gabbroic suites dredged from five fracture zones on the SW and Central Indian Ridges. Compositions of olivines (Fo56-Fo85) and plagioclases (An10-An80) and the generally low magnesium numbers of orthopyroxene (0.58–0.84) and clinopyroxene (0.50–0.89) indicate that most gabbros crystallized from liquids more fractionated than those represented by basalts from adjacent ridge segments and the fracture zones themselves. This disparity, the paucity of diabases and gabbros, the absence of more magnesian gabbros and olivine-spinel cumulates, and the abundance of serpentinite in the dredge collections suggest that the fracture-zone gabbros crystallized in small magma bodies such as dykes or sills. These were emplaced laterally from large central magma chambers along ridge axes towards the fracture zones beneath a carapace of less fractionated basalt.Rare olivine gabbros, however, contain magnesian clinopyroxene (magnesium number >0.84) and orthopyroxene (magnesium number >0.70), compositions which are more magnesian than those of pyroxenes that have been crystallized experimentally from certain ocean-ridge basalts at 1 atm. It has been suggested that such high-magnesium pyroxenes result from moderate- to high-pressure fractionation. However, the magnesian pyroxenes in the Indian Ocean samples follow olivine and plagioclase in the crystallization sequence and have compositions appropriate for crystallization at low pressure. For example, they match compositions of phenocrysts in refractory (low-Na2O, low-TiO2) siliceous (51–53% SiO2) basalts from Deep Sea Drilling Project sites in Eocene-Cretaceous portions of the Indian Ocean. Such refractory basalts have not been studied experimentally, but the early crystallization of bronzite at low pressure in one of them is consistent with the siliceous and magnesian composition of the host glass.Alternatively, the more magnesian pyroxenes in the gabbros may have resulted from a process of in situ boundary-layer recrystallization (resorption and recrystallization) of minerals on the walls of small magma bodies as high-temperature magmas were repeatedly injected along them. This mechanism is suggested by phase relationships in simplified basaltic systems at low pressure and by the compositions of rounded (resorbed) mega-crystal minerals which occur in many tholeiites from the Indian Ocean and elsewhere.