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Generation of Hawaiian post-erosional lavas by melting of a mixed lherzolite/pyroxenite source

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0012-821x(00)00084-4
  • Partial Melting
  • Mafic Composition
  • Isotope Ratios
  • Ocean-Island Basalts
  • Mid-Ocean Ridge Basalts
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Medicine


Abstract Melting of mafic veins in a marble-cake mantle may play an important role in generating isotopic and chemical heterogeneities in mid-ocean ridge and ocean island basalts. Mafic veins have lower solidi than mantle peridotite and will be preferentially sampled during partial melting, particularly at low melt fractions. However, the abundance of mafic components in the mantle or their role during melt generation has been difficult to quantify because most isotopic systems (e.g. Rb–Sr, Sm–Nd, U–Th–Pb) are not diagnostic of the presence or absence of mafic components. The compatible behavior of Os during mantle melting combined with the incompatible behavior of Re makes the Re–Os isotopic system uniquely well suited for distinguishing mafic and ultramafic contributions to melt generation. Almost all peridotites have low 187Os/ 188Os (e.g. chondritic to subchondritic). In contrast, mafic rocks have much higher Re/Os than peridotites, which results in the rapid ingrowth of 187Os and the development of large isotopic contrasts between mafic and ultramafic components within the mantle. In this paper, we show that Os-isotopes in Hawaiian post-erosional lavas extend to more radiogenic values than are found in Hawaiian lherzolites, abyssal peridotites or most other ultramafic samples. Os-isotopes are not correlated with other isotopic tracers, in contrast with plume-derived Hawaiian shield-stage lavas. The lack of correlation between Os-isotopes and Sr-, Nd- or Pb-isotopes and the more ‘depleted’ or MORB-like Sr–Nd isotopic signature of the post-erosional lavas relative to other Hawaiian lavas precludes significant melt input from the Hawaiian plume. However, Os-isotopes are correlated with major and trace elements. Lavas with more radiogenic Os-isotope compositions have higher silica and alumina and lower calcium and incompatible trace element abundances than lavas with less radiogenic Os-isotopes. These correlations result from mixing of pyroxenite- and peridotite-derived melts, both likely derived from the ∼100 Ma Pacific lithospheric mantle.

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