The paper presents newly obtained original data on the morphology, internal structure (as seen in cathodoluminescence images, CL), and composition of more than 400 zircon grains separated from gabbroids and plagiogranites (OPG) sampled at the axial zone of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR). The zircons were analyzed for REE by LA-ICP-MS and for Hf, U, Th, Y, and P by EPMA. Magmatic zircon in the gabbroids crystallized from differentiating magmatic melt in a number of episodes, as follows from systematic rimward increase in the Hf concentration, and also often from the simultaneous increase in the (U + Th) and (Y + P) concentrations. These tendencies are also discernible (although much less clearly) in zircons from the OPG. Zircon in the OPG is depleted in REE compared to the least modified zircons in the gabbro, which suggests that the OPG were derived via partial melting of gabbro in the presence of seawater-derived concentrated aqueous salt fluid. Another reason for the REE depletion might be simultaneous crystallization of zircon and apatite. The CL-dark sectors, which are found in practically all of the magmatic zircon grains, have Y/P (a.p.f.u.) ≫ 1 which most likely resulted from OH accommodation in the zircon structure, a fact suggesting that the OPG parental melt contained water. High-temperature hydrothermal processes induced partial to complete recrystallization of zircon (via dissolution-reprecepitation), a process that was associated with ductile and brittle deformations of the zircon-hosting rocks. The morphology of the hydrothermal zircons varies depending on pH and silica activity in the fluid from weakly corroded subhedral crystals with typical vermicular microtopography of the crystal faces to completely modified grains of colloform structure. Geochemically, the earlier hydrothermal transformations of the zircons resulted in their enrichment in La and other LREE, except only Ce, whose concentration, conversely, decreases compared to that of the unmodified magmatic zircons. The hydrothermal zircon displays a reduced Ce anomaly and its most altered domains typically host minute inclusions of xenotime, U and Th oxides and silicates, and occasionally also baddeleyite, which suggests that the hydrothermal fluid was reduced and highly alkaline. These features were acquired by the seawater-derived fluid when it circulated within the axial MAR zone area due to phase separation in the H2O–NaCl system and particularly as a result of fluid interaction with the abyssal peridotites of oceanic core complexes. Our data demonstrate that zircon is a sensitive indicator of tectonic and physicochemical processes in the oceanic crust.
Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology