Water-rock interactions, orthopyroxene growth, and Si-enrichment in the mantle: evidence in xenoliths from the Colorado Plateau, southwestern United States
Water-rock interactions and consequent orthopyroxene growth are documented by mantle xenoliths from opposite margins of the Colorado Plateau province. The interactions are inferred from a distinctive texture plus composition of orthopyroxene in spinel peridotite, in which porphyroblasts of orthopyroxene with inclusions of resorbed olivine are zoned to interiors exceptionally low in Al 2O 3 (<0.20 wt%). This texture plus composition has been found in xenoliths from Bandera Crater, New Mexico, in the southeastern margin of the Colorado Plateau, extending the known distribution from the northwestern margin (Grand Canyon field). Evidence that Si-enrichment locally accompanied movement of aqueous fluid is provided by an orthopyroxenite xenolith that is about 95% enstatite. The enstatite occurs in curved laths to 25 mm long, and the texture and composition (Al 2O 3 1 to 2 wt%, Mg/(Mg + Fe) 0.92) are attributed to growth during subsolidus interaction between peridotite and hydrous fluid. Modal orthopyroxene calculated from 4 bulk rock analyses of peridotite xenoliths from the Grand Canyon field ranges from 26 to 29%, more than in comparably depleted oceanic mantle. The mantle root of the Colorado Plateau may have formed from accreted ocean lithosphere and subsequently been enriched in Si by aqueous metasomatism at widely distributed sites. Similar fluid-rock interaction may have contributed to the orthopyroxene-enrichment characteristic of some mantle xenoliths from roots of Archaean cratons.