1. Leg 209 Summary: Processes in a 20-km-Thick Conductive Boundary Layer beneath the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 14–16N1

Peter B. Kelemen,2 Eiichi Kikawa,3 D. Jay Miller,4 and Shipboard Scientific Party5


This paper provides a summary of postcruise scientific results from Ocean Drilling Program (ODP) Leg 209 available to date, building upon shipboard observations and syntheses summarized in the Leg 209 Initial Results volume. During Leg 209, 19 holes were drilled at 8 sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge from 1443 to 1544N, mainly in residual mantle peridotite intruded by gabbroic rocks, in order to understand the tectonic and structural processes responsible for formation of oceanic lithosphere with abundant residual peridotite exposed on the seafloor coupled with a relatively low proportion of volcanic rocks.

Based on proportions of recovered lithologies, the entire area may be underlain by mantle peridotite with ~20%–40% gabbroic intrusions and impregnations. Impregnated peridotites with olivine + two pyroxenes + plagioclase + spinel that apparently formed in equilibrium probably record crystallization from primitive mid-ocean-ridge basalt at pressures of 0.5–0.6 GPa. Metamorphic equilibria record isobaric cooling to ~1100C at this pressure. Thus, the conductively cooled thermal boundary layer beneath the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in this region is >15 km thick.

Combined crystallization and reaction with residual peridotite formed a series of impregnated peridotites recording increasing Na content at nearly constant Mg#; this process could explain some of the variation in fractionation-corrected Na (e.g., Na = 8.0) observed in mid-ocean-ridge basalts. Clinopyroxene textures and compositions record such impregnation processes, and they are particularly well documented for Site 1274. Other Leg 209 gabbroic rocks formed from extensive crystallization of highly evolved melts, indicating that a substantial proportion of melt entering the thermal boundary layer crystallizes entirely beneath the seafloor, with no volcanic equivalent.

Alteration of peridotites occurred over a range of temperatures and is the result of three distinct processes: rock-dominated serpentinization with formation of brucite in olivine-rich lithologies, fluid-dominated serpentinization with formation of magnetite and no brucite, and fluid-dominated talc alteration with addition of SiO2 as well as H2O and oxygen. The latter two processes also exhibit detectable trace element metasomatism that is distinct in its character from the igneous impregnation described in the previous paragraph.

Microstructures show that most residual peridotites were not ductilely deformed at temperatures less than ~1200C. Structural and paleomagnetic data require tectonic rotations of relatively undeformed blocks; some rotations probably exceeded 60 around nearly horizontal axes parallel to the rift axis. Rotations occurred along several generations of high-temperature mylonitic shear zones extending deeper than 15 km depth and numerous faults at lower temperature. Early formed shear zones and faults were passively rotated around later features; such a process could have produced low-angle fault surfaces without slip on low-angle faults. This region provides end-member examples of processes that are common at many or most slow-spreading ridges.

Osmium isotope ratios indicate an ancient history of depletion for residual peridotites from the 14–16N region along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Though depleted Os isotope ratios in peridotite have been reported elsewhere along the global ridge system, the values from this region are among the most depleted. In general, Os isotope ratios from mid-ocean-ridge basalts are systematically more radiogenic than Os isotope ratios from ridge peridotite samples, suggesting a polygenetic heterogeneous source for mid-ocean-ridge basalts.

Geochemical studies of zircons from Leg 209 gabbroic rocks and impregnated peridotites, together with other ridge and arc-related zircons, indicate that ridge zircons have systematically lower fractionation-corrected U and Th concentrations compared to arc zircons. This observation provides a tool for interpreting the tectonic provenance of ancient detrital zircons and indicates an arclike provenance for Hadean detrital zircons.

Geobiological studies and aerobiological studies were also undertaken during Leg 209. The geobiological work found no measurable microbial enhancement of olivine dissolution rate, possibly because the samples from Leg 209 were sterile. The aerobiological study determined that dust from North Africa, collected from the derrick of the JOIDES Resolution during Leg 209, contains a variety of abundant microorganisms.

1Kelemen, P.B., Kikawa, E., Miller, D.J., and Shipboard Scientific Party, 2007. Leg 209 summary: processes in a 20-km-thick conductive boundary layer beneath the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, 14–16N. In Kelemen, P.B., Kikawa, E., and Miller, D.J. (Eds.), Proc. ODP, Sci. Results, 209 : College Station, TX (Ocean Drilling Program), 1–33. doi:10.2973/odp.proc.sr.209.001.2007

2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, PO Box 1000, 61 Route 9W, Palisades NY 10964, USA. peterk@ldeo.columbia.edu

3Deep Sea Research Department, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, 2-15 Natsushima-cho, Yokosuka 237-0061, Japan.

4Integrated Ocean Drilling Program, Texas A&M University, 1000 Discovery Drive, College Station TX 77845-9547, USA.

5Shipboard Scientific Party addresses.

Initial receipt: 19 January 2007
Acceptance: 10 April 2007
Web publication: 7 June 2007
Ms 209SR-001