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Buikin, A. I.; Trieloff, M.; Korochantseva, E.V.; Hopp, J.; Kaliwoda, Melanie; Meyer, H.-P.; Altherr, R. (2010): Distribution of mantle and atmospheric argon in mantle xenoliths from the Western Arabian peninsula: Constraints on timing and composition of metasomatizing agents in the lithospheric mantle. In: Journal of Petrology, Vol. 51, No. 12: pp. 2547-2570


To investigate the geochemical behaviour of argon isotopes during mantle metasomatism and to obtain chronological information on the age of metasomatic events under the Arabian Shield, we analyzed mantle xenoliths and hornblende megacrysts from Saudi Arabian volcanic fields (Uwayrid, Al Birk) applying the 40Ar-39Ar dating technique. Two hornblende megacrysts yield plateau ages indicating formation or total resetting of the K/Ar system 1-2 Myr ago. The ultramafic xenoliths trapped mantle-derived and atmospheric argon in different proportions, resulting in variable isotopic compositions: 40Ar/36Ar ratios range from 296 (i.e. atmospheric) to 10 500, reflecting interactions with isotopically and genetically different fluids and/or melts during recent mantle metasomatism. One such episode of metasomatism led to the formation of Ba-rich phlogopite, which yielded a saddle-shaped age spectrum with a maximum age estimate of 18 Ma. Another episode, inducing formation of secondary pargasite in the lithospheric mantle, was dated to 4 Ma. In the mantle xenoliths the concentration of mantle argon is clearly related to the intensity of metasomatism. Argon extraction by high-resolution stepwise heating allowed us to deconvolve various argon components distributed heterogeneously within single xenoliths and ascribe them to specific carrier phases. Pyroxenes generally preserve much higher 40Ar/36Ar ratios than olivine, as they contain up to 100 times higher concentrations of mantle argon, which also correlates with a higher fluid inclusion content in pyroxenes. Hydrous phases (phlogopite/amphibole) have more variable 40Ar/36Ar ratios. K and Cl concentrations and the argon isotope compositions of the Uwayrid xenoliths indicate distinct metasomatic agents, causing elemental and isotopic disequilibrium on a local scale. On the basis of correlations between Ar isotope composition and K and Cl concentration in the samples most strongly affected by the late metasomatic fluids, we suggest that metasomatic processes in the local mantle occurring simultaneously with the opening of the Red Sea were accompanied by the introduction of saline-water saturated fluids into deep lithospheric zones.