A Mg Isotopic Perspective on the Mobility of Magnesium During Serpentinization and Carbonation of the Oman Ophiolite

Juan Carlos de Obeso, Danielle P. Santiago Ramos, John A. Higgins, Peter B. Kelemen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Alteration of mantle peridotite in the Samail ophiolite forms secondary minerals, mainly serpentine and Mg-rich carbonates. Magnesium accounts for ∼25 – 30% of peridotite mass and its mobility can be used to trace this alteration. We report the first set of Mg isotope measurements from peridotites and their alteration products in Oman. Partially serpentinized peridotites have Mg isotope ratios that are indistinguishable from estimates for the average mantle and bulk silicate earth (δ26Mg = −0.25 ± 0.04‰). However, more extensively altered peridotite samples show large shifts in Mg isotopic composition. The range of δ26Mg values for our suite of alteration products from the mantle section is ∼4.5‰ (from −3.39‰ to 1.19‰), or >60% of the total range of terrestrial variability in δ26Mg values. Serpentine veins are typically enriched in 26Mg (max δ26Mg value = 0.96‰) whereas Mg-carbonate veins are associated with low 26Mg/24Mg ratios (magnesite δ26Mg = −3.3‰, dolomite δ26Mg = −1.91‰). Our preferred explanation for the range in δ26Mg values involves coprecipitation of serpentine and carbonates at water-to-rock ratios >103. The coincidence of alteration products characterized by δ26Mg values that are both lower and higher than bulk silicate Earth and the finite 14C ages of the carbonates suggest that both serpentinization and carbonation are ongoing in Oman. Rates of calcite precipitation in travertines inferred from Δ26Mgcal-fl suggest that travertine formation in Oman sequesters a total of 106–107 kg CO2/yr, consistent with previous estimates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JB020237
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


  • Mg isotopes
  • Oman
  • carbonation
  • ophiolite
  • peridotite
  • serpentinization


Dive into the research topics of 'A Mg Isotopic Perspective on the Mobility of Magnesium During Serpentinization and Carbonation of the Oman Ophiolite'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this