Definition of ophiolite in US English:



  • An igneous rock consisting largely of serpentine, believed to have been formed from the submarine eruption of oceanic crustal and upper mantle material.

    • ‘If this model does survive those tests, it has important implications for the tectonic environment in which the Troodos ophiolite formed.’
    • ‘These felsic rocks are contemporaneous with or only slightly younger than rocks from the Guevgueli ophiolite.’
    • ‘The differences between the ophiolite and Cretaceous arcrelated rocks are shown in Figure 4.’
    • ‘The Indus Suture Zone, also locally called the Sumdo Formation, contains the well-preserved Nidar ophiolite and the Zildat Ophiolitic Melange.’
    • ‘The Northland ophiolite crops out at headlands to the east and west of Cooper's Beach on the eastern Northland Peninsula.’


Mid 19th century: from Greek ophis ‘snake’ + -lite.