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Serpentinization of oceanic peridotites: 2. Kinetics and processes of San Carlos olivine hydrothermal alteration

Abstract : [1] The kinetics of the reaction (Mg,Fe)-olivine + H 2 O → serpentine + magnetite + brucite + H 2 were investigated at 500 bars in the 250–350 C range using natural olivine (San Carlos; Fo 91) with grain sizes between 1 and 150 mm and for run durations up to 514 d. The amount of magnetite produced, which directly relates to reaction progress, was accurately monitored using up to 24 time-resolved magnetic measurements per experiment. Eighty percent of serpentinization was achieved after 60 d for olivine grain sizes of 5–15 mm and after 500 d for grain sizes of 50–63 mm. Serpentinization kinetics were found to be inversely proportional to the geometrical surface area of the starting olivine grains. They were one or two orders of magnitude slower than serpentinization kinetics commonly used for modeling serpentinization-related processes. The nature of the serpentine mineral product depended on the initial olivine grain size (IGS); for IGS in the 5–150 mm range lizardite formed, and olivine dissolution was the rate-limiting process. At IGS below 5 mm, chrysotile crystallized instead of lizardite, and the relationship between olivine surface area and reaction kinetics no longer held. We infer that for such small olivine grain sizes dissolution is no longer the rate-limiting process. Serpentinization in our experiments was associated with the creation of new reactive surface area according to two cooperative processes: etch pits formation associated with dissolution and grain fracturing for IGS above 20 mm. Interestingly, fractures and etch pits with similar geometry and sizes were also observed for residual olivine (with a typical grain size of 50 mm) in serpentinized peridotite samples from the Southwest Indian Ridge. This suggests that the processes governing olivine serpentinization kinetics in our experiments are similar to those prevailing in natural systems. We therefore suggest that the new kinetic data set that we present here, which encompasses a range of olivine grain sizes and reaction temperatures, is relevant to the serpentinization of olivine in the oceanic crust insofar as water is available.
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Benjamin Malvoisin, Fabrice Brunet, Julie Carlut, Stéphane Rouméjon, Mathilde Cannat. Serpentinization of oceanic peridotites: 2. Kinetics and processes of San Carlos olivine hydrothermal alteration. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2012, 117 (B04102), ⟨10.1029/2011JB008842⟩. ⟨insu-01571061⟩



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