Magnetic properties of variably serpentinized peridotites and their implication for the evolution of oceanic core complexes

Marco Maffione*, Antony Morris, Oliver Plümper, Douwe J J Van Hinsbergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Serpentinization of ultramafic rocks during hydrothermal alteration at mid-ocean ridges profoundly changes the physical, chemical, rheological, and magnetic properties of the oceanic lithosphere. There is renewed interest in this process following the discovery of widespread exposures of serpentinized mantle on the seafloor in slow spreading oceans. Unroofing of mantle rocks in these settings is achieved by displacement along oceanic detachment faults, which eventually results in structures known as oceanic core complexes (OCCs). However, we have limited understanding of the mechanisms of serpentinization at the seafloor and in particular their relationship with the evolution of OCCs. Since magnetite is a direct product of serpentinization, the magnetic properties of variably serpentinized peridotites can provide unique insights into these mechanisms and their evolution in the oceanic lithosphere. Here we present new results from an integrated, rock magnetic, paleomagnetic, and petrological study of variably serpentinized peridotites from the first fossil OCC recognized in an ophiolite. Integration with existing data from mid-ocean ridge-related abyssal peridotites recovered from several scientific ocean drilling sites yields the first magnetic database from peridotites extending across the complete range (0-100%) of degrees of serpentinization. Variations in a range of magnetic parameters with serpentinization, and associated paleomagnetic data, provide: (i) key constraints on the mechanism(s) of serpentinization at mid-ocean ridges; (ii) insights on the potential for serpentinized peridotites to contribute to marine magnetic anomalies; and (iii) evidence that leads to a new conceptual model for the evolution of serpentinization and related remanence acquisition at OCCs. Key Points Magnetic properties of variably serpentinized peridotite are investigated Abyssal peridotites are unlikely to contribute to marine magnetic anomalies A new conceptual model for serpentinization at OCCs is proposed

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)923-944
Number of pages22
JournalGeochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Apr 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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