Ultramafic xenoliths from the Bearpaw Mountains, Montana, USA: Evidence for multiple metasomatic events in the lithospheric mantle beneath the Wyoming craton

Journal of Petrology
By: , and 



Ultramafic xenoliths in Eocene minettes of the Bearpaw Mountains volcanic field (Montana, USA), derived from the lower lithosphere of the Wyoming craton, can be divided based on textural criteria into tectonite and cumulate groups. The tectonites consist of strongly depleted spinel lherzolites, harzbugites and dunites. Although their mineralogical compositions are generally similar to those of spinel peridotites in off-craton settings, some contain pyroxenes and spinels that have unusually low Al2O3 contents more akin to those found in cratonic spinel peridotites. Furthermore, the tectonite peridotites have whole-rock major element compositions that tend to be significantly more depleted than non-cratonic mantle spinel peridotites (high MgO, low CaO, Al2O3 and TiO2) and resemble those of cratonic mantle. These compositions could have been generated by up to 30% partial melting of an undepleted mantle source. Petrographic evidence suggests that the mantle beneath the Wyoming craton was re-enriched in three ways: (1) by silicate melts that formed mica websterite and clinopyroxenite veins; (2) by growth of phlogopite from K-rich hydrous fluids; (3) by interaction with aqueous fluids to form orthopyroxene porphyroblasts and orthopyroxenite veins. In contrast to their depleted major element compositions, the tectonite peridotites are mostly light rare earth element (LREE)-enriched and show enrichment in fluid-mobile elements such as Cs, Rb, U and Pb on mantle-normalized diagrams. Lack of enrichment in high field strength elements (HFSE; e.g. Nb, Ta, Zr and Hf) suggests that the tectonite peridotites have been metasomatized by a subduction-related fluid. Clinopyroxenes from the tectonite peridotites have distinct U-shaped REE patterns with strong LREE enrichment. They have 143Nd/144Nd values that range from 0??5121 (close to the host minette values) to 0??5107, similar to those of xenoliths from the nearby Highwood Mountains. Foliated mica websterites also have low 143Nd/144Nd values (0??5113) and extremely high 87Sr/86Sr ratios in their constituent phlogopite, indicating an ancient (probably mid-Proterozoic) enrichment. This enriched mantle lithosphere later contributed to the formation of the high-K Eocene host magmas. The cumulate group ranges from clinopyroxene-rich mica peridotites (including abundant mica wehrlites) to mica clinopyroxenites. Most contain >30% phlogopite. Their mineral compositions are similar to those of phenocrysts in the host minettes. Their whole-rock compositions are generally poorer in MgO but richer in incompatible trace elements than those of the tectonite peridotites. Whole-rock trace element patterns are enriched in large ion lithophile elements (LILE; Rb, Cs, U and Pb) and depleted in HFSE (Nb, Ta Zr and Hf as in the host minettes, and their Sr-Nd isotopic compositions are also identical to those of the minettes. Their clinopyroxenes are LREE-enriched and formed in equilibrium with a LREE-enriched melt closely resembling the minettes. The cumulates therefore represent a much younger magmatic event, related to crystallization at mantle depths of minette magmas in Eocene times, that caused further metasomatic enrichment of the lithosphere. ?? Oxford University Press 2004; all rights reserved.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Ultramafic xenoliths from the Bearpaw Mountains, Montana, USA: Evidence for multiple metasomatic events in the lithospheric mantle beneath the Wyoming craton
Series title Journal of Petrology
DOI 10.1093/petrology/egh027
Volume 45
Issue 8
Year Published 2004
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Petrology
First page 1631
Last page 1662
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