Asthenospheric control of melting processes in a monogenetic basaltic system: A case study of the Auckland volcanic field, New Zealand

Lucy E. McGee*, Ian E M Smith, Marc Alban Millet, Heather K. Handley, Jan M. Lindsay

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Citations (Scopus)


High-resolution sampling in monogenetic fields has the potential to reveal fine-scale heterogeneity of the mantle, a feature that may be overwhelmed by larger fluxes of magma, or missed by under-sampling. The Quaternary Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF) in northern New Zealand is a basaltic field of 51 small-volume volcanic centres, and is one of the best-sampled examples of a monogenetic volcanic field. We present data for 12 centres in the volcanic field. These show the large compositional variations between volcanoes as well as through single eruptive sequences. Whole-rock compositions range from subalkaline basalt in the larger centres, through alkali basalt to nephelinite in the smallest centres. Fractional crystallization has had a limited effect in many of the centres, but high-pressure clinopyroxene crystallization may have occurred in others. Three endmembers are observed in Pb isotope space, indicating that distinct mantle source components are involved in the petrogenesis of the magmas. Whole-rock multi-element patterns show that the larger centres have prominent positive Sr anomalies and lack Kanomalies, whereas the smaller centres have prominent negative K anomalies and lack Sr anomalies.The melting parameters and compositions of the sources involved are modelled using trace element ratios and multi-element patterns, and three components are characterized: (1) fertile peridotite with a Pb-isotope composition similar to Pacific mid-ocean ridge basalt; (2) eclogite domains with a HIMU-like isotope composition dispersed within the fertile peridotite; (3) slightly depleted subduction-metasomatized peridotitic lithospheric mantle (containing c. 3% subduction fluids). Modelling shows that melting in the AVF begins in garnet-bearing fertile asthenosphere (with preferential melting of eclogite domains) and that melts are variably diluted by melts of the lithospheric source. The U-Th isotope compositions of the end-members in the AVF show 230Th excess [(230Th/232Th) ratios of 1·11-1·38], with the samples of lower (230Th/232Th) exhibiting higher (238U/232Th), which we attribute to the dilution effect of the melts from the lithospheric mantle source. Modelling reveals a correlation between melting in the asthenosphere, the degree of melting and incorporation of the metasomatized lithospheric mantle source, and the resultant size of the volcanic centre. This suggests that the scale of the eruption may essentially be controlled by asthenospheric mantle dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2125-2153
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


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