Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation




Geological Sciences

First Advisor

Michael Bizimis


Serpentinized abyssal peridotites are evidence for active communication between the Earth’s hydrosphere and the upper mantle, where exchange and retention of both major and trace elements occur. Rare earth elements (REE) and high-field strength elements (HFSE: Ti, Zr, Hf, Nb, Ta) are generally thought of as immobile during serpentinization. In partially serpentinized abyssal peridotites, clinopyroxenes typically retain radiogenic Nd and Hf isotopic signatures that have been used to infer the composition and high temperature processes in the upper mantle. However, bulk rock Nd isotopes in some serpentinized abyssal peridotites less radiogenic values that approach that of seawater, which has been previously explained as elemental exchange during seawater – rock interactions. This discrepancy between the clinopyroxene and their bulk rock abyssal peridotite Nd isotope values question the presumed immobile nature of REE during serpentinization. Yet the relationship between the clinopyroxene and bulk rock Nd isotopes and REE concentrations and whether REE are added or exchanged with peridotite, has not been explicitly tested. In addition, to date no bulk rock Hf isotopes have been reported in abyssal peridotites, so it is unclear if HFSE in peridotites are being affected by serpentinization. To answer these questions this dissertation reports detailed bulk rock trace element, Sr, Nd, Hf, Pb isotopes as well as trace and major element concentrations of primary and secondary mineral phases of serpentinized peridotites recovered from the ocean floor. A subset of these rocks was analyzed by sequential leaching experiments. These data shows that LREE are added to peridotites during

serpentinization in varying amounts and are being confined to secondary mineral phases. The extent of addition also depends on the water / rock mass ratio, a proxy for the extent of serpentinization, and the relative concentrations of REE in peridotite protolith prior to alteration. Additionally, bulk rock Hf isotopes match with clinopyroxene Hf isotopes within 1 εHf unit while bulk rock Nd isotopes extend to much less radiogenic values than their clinopyroxene counterparts. This data suggests that the bulk rock peridotite Hf isotopes are more resilient during serpentinization that Nd isotopes, and can be used to trace the magmatic history of the rock. Additional experiments were performed between artificial seawater and fresh mineral separates from peridotites at a range of low temperatures

dissertation shows that light REE are dominantly added to peridotites during serpentinization, and that serpentinization may be a sink for REE. The bulk rock Hf isotopes are far less sensitive to serpentinization than Nd, possibly due to lower concentrations found in seawater relative to REE. These data have implications on the isotopic evolution of serpentinized recycled lithosphere and the development of isotope heterogeneities in the mantle, the use of Nd isotopes to calculate water / rock ratios during serpentinization, and possibly the flux of LREE from the serpentinized lithosphere to the mantle wedge and arc volcanism at convergent boundaries.


© 2016, Carl Pasquale Frisby

Appendix A.xlsx (4088 kB)
Appendix B.xlsx (56 kB)
Appendix C.xlsx (3700 kB)

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