Stable isotope evidence for near-surface, low-temperature formation of Mg-(hydro)carbonates in highly altered Greek Mesozoic serpentinites

Julian Andrews, Michael Stamatakis, Ioannis Mitsis, Terry Donnelly, M Reguerio y Gonzalez-Barros, Anthony Fallick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Authigenic magnesite, hydromagnesite and huntite associated with intensely altered and serpentinized ophiolitic rocks in Attica (mainland Greece) occur predominantly as veinlets and nodules within a totally weathered former-serpentinite groundmass. Carbonate δ18O values are consistent with post-geothermal fluid temperatures between 25-70 ˚C, but mostly between 25-30 ˚C, from a dominantly meteoric-sourced groundwater, indicating near-surface, low-temperature conditions. Despite the proximity of a volcanic centre with strong CO2 flux, 75% of the carbon isotope data imply little or no incorporation of this CO2 into the authigenic Mg-(hydro)carbonates. Indeed, many δ13C values are more negative than soil-zone calcrete values, and in this setting Mg-(hydro)carbonate δ13C below -6‰ VPDB probably indicate disequilibrium effects in alkaline groundwaters. Geothermal fluids and groundwaters were mainly routed through structural conduits. Some of the low temperature hydromagnesite subsequently dehydrated to magnesite under near-surface conditions, while huntite is likely a diagenetic transformation of hydromagnesite, forming close to the volcanic centre where fluid Mg/Ca ratios were low. The isotopic signatures are distinct from previously published Balkan-East Mediterranean magnesite data arrays but are consistent with many other ultramafic-associated magnesium carbonates worldwide; their association with likely fluid compositions provide important context for Mg-(hydro)carbonate formation as geothermal conditions cool to near surface temperatures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)361-375
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the Geological Society
Issue number2
Early online date14 Dec 2017
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2018

Cite this