Many mantle peridotite samples are too rich in SiO2 (in the form of orthopyroxene) and have ratios of light to heavy rare earth elements that are too high to be consistent with an origin as the residuum of partial melting of the primitive mantle. Trace element studies of melt/rock reaction zones in the Trinity peridotite provide evidence for reaction of the mantle lithosphere with ascending melts, which dissolved calcium-pyroxene and precipitated orthopyroxene as magma mass decreased. This process can account for the observed major and trace element compositions of lithospheric mantle samples, and may accordingly be prevalent in the upper mantle.
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Formation of harzburgite by pervasive melt/rock reaction in the upper mantle