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The contribution of amphibole from deep arc crust to the silicate Earth's Nb budget

DOI: 10.1016/j.lithos.2014.07.028
  • Amphibole
  • Continental Crust
  • Nb/Ta
  • Nb/La
  • Hornblendite


Abstract The continental crust (CC) and the depleted mantle (DM) are generally assumed to be complementary reservoirs within the Earth. However, the mixture between CC and upper mantle does not generate the Nb/Ta and Nb/La ratios of chondrites. A reservoir with superchondritic ratios for Nb/Ta and Nb/La is thus required in the Earth's system. The occurrence of a hidden amphibole reservoir in the lower arc crust has been recently proposed. This, coupled with the capability of calcic amphibole to give rise to a superchondritic Nb/Ta and Nb/La reservoir, led us to determine to what extent amphibole-rich ultramafic rocks can account for the Nb (and Nb/Ta, Nb/La as well) imbalance on Earth. We have considered lower crust mafic and ultramafic amphibole-rich intrusive rocks from collisional settings worldwide. Because CC is considered to have primarily formed in collisional setting these rocks are important for its genetic model. We modeled Nb, Ta and La contents of the hidden Nb reservoir by mass balance calculations between continental crust, depleted mantle and primitive mantle. Modeling shows that amphibole-rich mafic lower crust can solve the so-called Nb paradox if large volumes of materials are supposed to be returned into the mantle during the Earth's history. A possible mechanism is recycling, particularly in Precambrian times of eclogites that melted as amphibolites and were later transferred to the eclogite field as a metamorphic reaction.

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