Nature of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Arabian Shield and genesis of Al-spinel micropods: Evidence from the mantle xenoliths of Harrat Kishb, Western Saudi Arabia

Ahmed H. Ahmed, Abdel Kader M. Moghazi, Mohamed R. Moufti, Yehia H. Dawood, Kamal A. Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


The Harrat Kishb area of western Saudi Arabia is part of the Cenozoic volcanic fields in the western margin of the Arabian Shield. Numerous fresh ultramafic xenoliths are entrained in the basanite lava of Harrat Kishb, providing an opportunity to study the nature and petrogenetic processes involved in the evolution of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Arabian Shield. Based on the petrological characteristics and mineralogical compositions, the majority of the mantle xenoliths (~92%) are peridotites (lherzolites and pyroxene-bearing harzburgites); the remaining xenoliths (~8%) are unusual spinel-rich wehrlites containing black Al-spinel micropods. The two types of mantle xenoliths display magmatic protogranular texture. The peridotite xenoliths have high bulk-rock Mg#, high forsterite (Fo90-Fo92) and NiO (0.24-0.46wt.%) contents of olivine, high clinopyroxene Mg# (0.91-0.93), variable spinel Cr# (0.10-0.49, atomic ratio), and approximately flat chondrite-normalized REE patterns. These features indicate that the peridotite xenoliths represent residues after variable degrees of melt extraction from fertile mantle. The estimated P (9-16kbar) and T (877-1227°C) as well as the oxidation state (ΔlogfO2=-3.38 to -0.22) under which these peridotite xenoliths originated are consistent with formation conditions similar to most sub-arc abyssal-type peridotites worldwide. The spinel-rich wehrlite xenoliths have an unusual amount (~30vol.%) of Al-spinel as peculiar micropods with very minor Cr2O3 content (<1wt.%). Olivines of the spinel-rich wehrlites have low-average Fo (Fo81) and NiO (0.18wt.%) contents, low-average cpx Mg# (0.79), high average cpx Al2O3 content (8.46wt.%), and very low-average spinel Cr# (0.01). These features characterize early mantle cumulates from a picritic melt fraction produced by low degrees of partial melting of a garnet-bearing mantle source. The relatively high Na2O and Al2O3 contents of cpx suggest that the spinel-rich wehrlites are formed under high P (11-14kbar), T (1090-1130°C), and oxidation state (ΔlogfO2 FMQ=+0.14 to +0.37), which occurred slightly below the crust-mantle boundary. The REE patterns of spinel-rich wehrlites are almost similar to those of the associated peridotite xenoliths, which confirm at least a spatial genetic linkage between them. Regarding the formation of Al-spinel micropods in spinel-rich wehrlite cumulates, it is suggested that the melt-rock reaction mechanism is not the only process by which podiform chromitite is formed. Early fractionation of picritic melts produced by partial melting of a mantle source under high P-T conditions could be another mechanism. The cpx composition, not opx, as it was assumed, seems to be the main control of the size and composition of spinel concentrations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-139
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Al-spinel micropods
  • Arabian Shield
  • Harrat Kishb
  • Mantle peridotite xenoliths
  • Mantle restite and cumulates
  • Saudi Arabia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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