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Published April 1, 2015 | public
Journal Article Open

Crystal chemical constraints on inter-mineral Fe isotope fractionation and implications for Fe isotope disequilibrium in San Carlos mantle xenoliths


The origin of variations in iron isotope compositions of mantle minerals is uncertain, and predictions of equilibrium inter-mineral iron isotope fractionation conflict. This hinders interpretation of the petrologic and geochemical implications of Fe isotope data from mantle lithologies. To address this, we present a revised ionic model for predicting equilibrium iron isotope fractionation between mantle minerals and use it to interpret measured inter-mineral iron isotopic fractionation from five distinct mantle xenolith lithologies from San Carlos, Arizona. The samples represent a broad range of modal abundances and include lherzolite, harzburgite, dunite, clinopyroxenite, and websterite. The xenoliths exhibit Fe-isotopic variation between minerals in a single sample, and between samples. In all cases where spinel and olivine coexist, the ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe of spinel is greater than that of the corresponding olivine, agreeing with expectations for equilibrium fractionation from theory (ionic model), but disagreeing with predictions based on Mössbauer data. The ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe values of clinopyroxenes from the xenoliths show no clear systematic differences. We interpret this to be a result of varying degrees of metasomatism, perhaps involving interaction with a melt. The spinel peridotite samples (lherzolite, harzburgite, and dunite) are partially melted residual mantle that exhibit a decrease in whole-rock ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe with increasing olivine abundance. This is consistent with progressive extraction of a ^(57)Fe-rich partial melt. The clinopyroxenite has the highest whole-rock ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe, consistent with its origin as a cumulate from an unrelated magma possessing elevated ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe. The websterite sample is transitional to Group II type xenoliths, has the lowest whole-rock ^(57)Fe/^(54)Fe of the investigated samples, and likely experienced a more complex metasomatic history. This study demonstrates that the Fe isotope compositions of San Carlos xenoliths and their component minerals record the complex petrologic history and local heterogeneity of the subcontinental mantle lithosphere.

Additional Information

© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. Received 1 May 2014; accepted in revised form 18 January 2015; available online 28 January 2015. Associate editor: Shichun Huang. We express thanks to Edwin Schauble for helpful discussions on equilibrium stable isotope fractionation theory and insightful comments on the manuscript. We are grateful to Mike Baker for sharing his knowledge concerning estimates of ferric iron in mantle minerals, as well as other advice and assistance he provided during the revision of this manuscript. We thank Shichun Huang, Sarah Lambart, Fang Huang and Michael Bizimis for their thoughtful comments, which resulted in great improvements to the final manuscript. Karen Ziegler and Eric Tonui are thanked for their assistance in the laboratory. We acknowledge support from National Science Foundation grant EAR0711411 to E.D.Y., C.E.M., and ES.

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Supplemental Material - mmc2.docx

Supplemental Material - mmc3.docx

Supplemental Material - mmc4.xlsx


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August 20, 2023
August 20, 2023