Ophiolitic Rocks
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Chromitic Serpentinite]

Little Port Ophiolite Complex
Lewis Hills Massif
[Ordovician]

Lewis Hills

Newfoundland
CANADA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Chromitic Serpentinite]

Bay of Islands Ophiolite Complex
[Ordovician]

Newfoundland
CANADA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Chromitic Serpentinite]

Bay of Islands Ophiolite Complex
[Ordovician]

Newfoundland
CANADA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Serpentinite]

Rhyd Y Bont  Ophiolite Complex
[Late Proterozoic]

Rhoscolyn
Anglesey

WALES
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Serpentinite]

Rhyd Y Bont  Ophiolite Complex
[Late Proterozoic]

Rhoscolyn
Anglesey

WALES
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 and often emplaced onto continental crustal rocks. Ophio is Greek for "snake", lite means "stone" from the Greek lithos, after the often green-colored rocks (spilites and serpentinites) that make up many ophiolites. The term ophiolite was originally assigned for an assemblage of green rocks (serpentine, diabase) in the Alps. It was later modified its use to include serpentine, pillow lava, and chert, again based on occurrences in the Alps. The term was little used in other areas until the late 1950s to early 1960s, with the recognition that this assemblage provided an analogue for oceanic crust and the process of seafloor spreading. This recognition was tied to two events: (1) the observation of magnetic anomaly stripes on the seafloor, parallel to oceanic ridge systems, interpreted to represent the formation of new crust at the oceanic ridge and its subsequent symmetric spreading away from that ridge, and (2) the observation of a sheeted dike complex within the Troodos ophiolite complex in Cyprus which must have formed by repetitive extension of crust and intrusion of magma resulting in a formation consisting of 100% dikes with no older wall rocks preserved within the complex. It is concluded that the sheeted dike complex at Troodos could only form by a process similar to that of seafloor spreading. Thus, it became widely accepted that ophiolites represent oceanic crust that had been emplaced on land. Their great significance relates to their occurrence within mountain belts such as the Alps or the Himalayas, where they document the existence of former ocean basins that have now been consumed by subduction. This insight was one of the founding pillars of plate tectonics, and ophiolites have always played a central role in plate tectonic theory and the interpretation of ancient mountain belts.


Photograph Courtesy of the British Geological Survey

[Pillow Lavas]

Ballantrae Ophiolite Complex
[Ordovician - Arenigian]


UNITED KINGDOM
Photograph Courtesy of the British Geological Survey

[Pillow Lavas]

Ballantrae Ophiolite Complex
[Ordovician - Arenigian]


UNITED KINGDOM
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Serpentinized Peridotite with Chromite and Chrysotile]

Thetford Mines Ophiolite Complex
[Relict Iapetus Oceanic Lithosphere]

Quebec
CANADA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Serpentinized Peridotite with Chromite and Chrysotile]

Thetford Mines Ophiolite Complex
[Relict Iapetus Oceanic Lithosphere]

Quebec
CANADA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

[Serpentinized Peridotite]

Sierra Azul Block
Coast Range Ophiolite

Watsonville

Santa Cruz County
CALIFORNIA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Chromite
[Crystals in Serpentinite]

Unst Ophiolite Complex

Nikka Vord
Unst

Shetland Islands
SCOTLAND
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Chromite
[Crystals in Serpentinite]

Unst Ophiolite Complex

Nikka Vord
Unst

Shetland Islands
SCOTLAND
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Chromite
[Crystals in Serpentinite]

Unst Ophiolite Complex

Nikka Vord
Unst

Shetland Islands
SCOTLAND
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Chromite
[Crystals in Serpentinite]

Unst Ophiolite Complex

Nikka Vord
Unst

Shetland Islands
SCOTLAND
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Chromite
[Crystals in Serpentinite]

Unst Ophiolite Complex

Nikka Vord
Unst

Shetland Islands
SCOTLAND
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Lizardite
[Serpentinized Peridotite with Minor Chromite]

Waziristan-Khost Ophiolite Belt
[Cretaceous]

Kama District

Nangarhar Province
AFGHANISTAN
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Lizardite
[Serpentinized Peridotite with Minor Chromite]

Waziristan-Khost Ophiolite Belt
[Cretaceous]

Kama District

Nangarhar Province
AFGHANISTAN
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Lizardite
[Serpentinized Peridotite with Minor Chromite]

Waziristan-Khost Ophiolite Belt
[Cretaceous]

Kama District

Nangarhar Province
AFGHANISTAN
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Lizardite
[Serpentinized Peridotite with Minor Chromite]

Waziristan-Khost Ophiolite Belt
[Cretaceous]

Kama District

Nangarhar Province
AFGHANISTAN
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Dunite
[Weakly Serpentinized Upper Mantle with Chromite]

Twin Sisters Dunite
[Cenozoic]

Swen Larson Quarry
Twin Sister Mountains
Acme

Whatcom County
WASHINGTON
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Dunite
[Weakly Serpentinized Upper Mantle with Chromite]

Twin Sisters Dunite
[Cenozoic]

Swen Larson Quarry
Twin Sister Mountains
Acme

Whatcom County
WASHINGTON
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz


Cumulate Chromite
[Cumulate Chromite in Serpentine - "Leopard Ore"]

Kings-Kaweah Ophiolite Belt
[Mesozoic]

Pine Flat Lake
Hog Mountain

Fresno County
CALIFORNIA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz


Cumulate Chromite
[Cumulate Chromite in Serpentine - "Leopard Ore"]

Kings-Kaweah Ophiolite Belt
[Mesozoic]

Pine Flat Lake
Hog Mountain

Fresno County
CALIFORNIA
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Brecciated Serpentine with Chrysotile Veins

Troodos Ophiolite Complex

Troodos Mountains

CYPRUS
Photographed by Michael P. Klimetz

Brecciated Serpentine with Chrysotile Veins

Troodos Ophiolite Complex

Troodos Mountains

CYPRUS