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A distinctive assemblage of mafic plus ultramafic rocks, generally considered to be fragments of oceanic lithosphere that have been tectonically emplaced onto continental margins and island arcs.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a group of ultrabasic and basic intrusive (dunites, peridotites, pyroxenites, various gabbros, tonalites), effusive (primarily basalts and their tuffs), and sedimentary (pelagic oceanic deposits) rocks that are found together.

The concept of ophiolite was introduced by the Swiss scientist G. Steinmann in 1905. Ophiolites are usually associated with the manifestation of magmatism in the early stages of the formation of geosynclinal systems.

During the 1960’s and 1970’s, in connection with intensive study of the oceans, the problem of ophiolites attracted a great deal of attention. Scientists began viewing ophiolites in folded regions as relics of oceanic crust tectonically moved to the margins of the continents. Moreover, serpentinized ultrabasites are viewed as part of the mantle; gabbroids, as the “basalt layer”; and the effusive sedimentary series, as an analogue of the “first” and “second” layers of the present-day oceanic crust. A partial disruption of this sequence of rocks results from the tectonic factors that cause the development of a specific geological formation, a serpentinite rock, in which all members of the ophiolite group, as well as other rocks, are chaotically intermixed and “cemented together” by serpentinites.

Ophiolites are a common component of the earth’s linear folded regions. They are widespread in geosynclinal systems, forming within them protrusions (rock masses tectonically intruded in the solid state into the deposits covering them) or nappes thrust over the miogeosynclinal or platform sediments that overlie the continental crust. The study of ophiolites is important in discovering deposits of chromium, nickel, platinum, gold, mercury, and other ores genetically related to ophiolites, and for studying the historical development of the earth’s crust.


Peive, A. V. “Okeanicheskaia kora geologicheskogo proshlogo.” Geotektonika, 1969, no. 4.
Hess, H. H. “History of Ocean Basins.” In Buddington Volume. New York, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
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Winder lies in the southern part of the western fold belt of Pakistan and geologically, it is composed mainly of sedimentary rocks of the Jurassic age (Ferozabad Group) and igneous rocks (Bela Ophiolites) of the Cretaceous age.
Except of one sample that may suggest a deeper source, all of the aflaj samples belong to the Mg-HC[O.sub.3], circulate within the ophiolite rocks, and are located along the slope of the NOM.
"The Oman Drilling Project will sample the whole ophiolite sequence in Oman, from the crust through to upper mantle, in a series of boreholes.
Bangong Lake-Nujiang River Metallogenic belt includes not only ophiolite melange belt in suture zone but also the magmatite zone related to the tectonic evolution of Meso Tethys in the south and north side (Geng, Pan, Wang, Peng, & Zhang, 2011).
In November, another Australian company with property in Cobalt, Ophiolite Consultants Pty, was acquired by Equator Resources Limited.
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Pakistan is located in the Indus-Tsangpo Suture Zone, which is roughly 200 km north of the Himalaya Front and is defined by an exposed ophiolite chain along its southern margin.