Ophiolite facts for kids
An ophiolite is a section of the Earth's oceanic crust and the underlying upper mantle that has been uplifted and exposed above sea level. The rocks which make up ophiolites are an altered form of basalt. The rocks are often green.
They are found in the mountain belts such as the Alps or the Himalayas. They show where former ocean basins were consumed by subduction. This was one of the discoveries of plate tectonics. Ophiolites have always played a central role in plate tectonic theory and the interpretation of ancient mountain belts.
Stratigraphy and definition
- Sediments: muds (black shale) and cherts deposited after the crust formed.
- Extrusive sequence: basalt "pillow lavas" show magma/seawater contact.
- Vertical, parallel dikes fed lavas above.
- Gabbros from minerals settling from a magma chamber.
- Peridotite: mantle rock minerals, heated and pressured in orogeny (mountain-building).
- In the California Coast Ranges, from Santa Barbara through San Francisco Counties, California.
- In Oman and the United Arab Emirates, widely considered one of the best exposed ophiolite sequences
- Macquarie Island, Tasmania, Australia was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997, as the only known example of an ophiolite complex in the process of being formed and currently in its original geological setting.
- In Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 because of its superbly exposed complete ophiolite stratigraphic sequence
Images for kids
Ordovician ophiolite in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
A simplified structure of an ophiolite suite:1. axial magma chamber2. pelagic sediments3. pillow basalts4. sheeted basaltic dykes5. intrusive, layered gabbro6. dunite/peridotite cumulates
Classic ophiolite assemblage in Cyprus showing sheeted lava intersected by a dyke with pillow lava on top.
Ophiolite Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.