obducted oceanic crust (or lithosphere)

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.[1] The rocks are often green.

Ophiolitic serpentinite from Austria, originally from the Proterozoic-early Paleozoic upper mantle. This peridotite rock was metamoposed in later mountain ranges
Cross-section of an ophiolite

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.[2]

Stratigraphy and definitionEdit

Idealized stratigraphic sequence of an ophiolite

The stratigraphic sequence seen in ophiolites is caused by lithosphere-forming processes at mid-oceanic ridges:

Notable ophiolitesEdit


  1. Ben-Avraham Z. et al 1982. The emplacement of ophiolites by collision. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth (1978-2012). 87 (B5) 3861-3867.
  2. Dilek Y. 2003. Ophiolite concept and its evolution. In Dilek Y. & Newcomb S. Ophiolite concept and the evolution of geological thought. Special Paper 373. Geological Society of America. pp. 1–16 [1]. ISBN 0813723736