Boron and oxygen isotope evidence for recycling of subducted components over the past 2.5 Gyr

Simon Turner*, Sonia Tonarini, Ilya Bindeman, William P. Leeman, Bruce F. Schaefer

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    56 Citations (Scopus)


    Evidence for the deep recycling of surficial materials through the Earth's mantle and their antiquity has long been sought to understand the role of subducting plates and plumes in mantle convection. Radiogenic isotope evidence for such recycling remains equivocal because the age and location of parent-daughter fractionation are not known. Conversely, while stable isotopes can provide irrefutable evidence for low-temperature fractionation, their range in most unaltered oceanic basalts is limited and the age of any variation is unconstrained. Here we show that δ18O ratios in basalts from the Azores are often lower than in pristine mantle. This, combined with increased Nb/B ratios and a large range in δ11B ratios, provides compelling evidence for the recycling of materials that had undergone fractionation near the Earth's surface. Moreover, δ11B is negatively correlated with 187Os/188Os ratios, which extend to subchondritic values, constraining the age of the high Nb/B, 11B-enriched endmember to be more than 2.5 billion years (Gyr) old. We infer this component to be melt- and fluid-depleted lithospheric mantle from a subducted oceanic plate, whereas other Azores basalts contain a contribution from ∼3-Gyr-old melt-enriched basalt. We conclude that both components are most probably derived from an Archaean oceanic plate that was subducted, arguably into the deep mantle, where it was stored until thermal buoyancy caused it to rise beneath the Azores islands ∼3 Gyr later.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)702-705
    Number of pages4
    Issue number7145
    Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2007


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