Mantle Oxidation State and Its Relationship to Tectonic Environment and Fluid Speciation

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Science  20 Apr 1990:
Vol. 248, Issue 4953, pp. 337-345
DOI: 10.1126/science.248.4953.337


The earth's mantle is degassed along mid-ocean ridges, while rehydration and possibly recarbonaton occurs at subduction zones. These processes and the speciation of C-H-O fluids in the mantle are related to the oxidation state of mantle peridotite. Peridotite xenoliths from continental localities exhibit an oxygen fugacity (fo2) range from -1.5 to +1.5 log units relative to the FMQ (fayalite-magnetite-quartz) buffer. The lowest values are from zones of continental extension. Highly oxidized xenoliths (fo2 greater than FMQ) come from regions of recent or acive subduction (for example, Ichinomegata, Japan), are commonly amphibole-bearing, and show trace element and isotopic evidence of fluid-rock interaction. Peridotites from ocean ridges are reduced and have an averae fo2 of about -0.9 log units relative to FMQ, virtually coincident with values obtained from mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) glasses. These data are further evidence of the genetic link between MORB liquids and residual peridotite and indicate that the asthenosphere, although reducing, has CO2 and H2O as its major fluid species. Incorporation of oxidized material from subduction zones into the continental lithosphere produces xenoliths that have both asthenospheric and subduction signatures. Fluids in the lithosphere are also dominated by CO2 and H2O, and native C is generally unstable. Although the occurrence of native C (diamond) in deep-seated garnetiferous xenoliths and kimberlites does not require reducing conditions, calculations indicate that high Fe3+ contents are stabilized in the garnet structure and that fo2 deareases with increasing depth.