Distribution of high field strength and rare earth elements in mantle and lower crustal xenoliths from the southwestern United States

The role of grain-boundary phases

Kent C. Condie*, Jessica Cox, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly, W. L. Griffin, Robert Kerrich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    27 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Spinel lherzolite and harzburgite xenoliths from the Basin and Range and Colorado Plateau Provinces in the southwestern United States (SWUS) show a broad range in incompatible element distributions from depleted to enriched, both within and between sites. The most fertile xenoliths occur in the Basin and Range Province and the most refractory in the Colorado Plateau or Transition Zone. Mass balance calculations indicate that up to 80% of the high field strength (Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Th, Ti) and rare earth elements (50% for Yb) in these xenoliths occur in phases along grain boundaries (or in microfractures). In lower crustal and eclogite xenoliths, up to 90% of these elements occur in grain-boundary phases. Nb/Ta, Zr/Hf, La/Sm and Nb/Th ratios and Nb-Ta anomalies in both types of xenoliths are also controlled by grain-boundary phases. To interpret these ratios in whole-rock analyses, it is critical to understand the timing and origin of the grain-boundary components in the xenoliths. Most of the enriched mantle xenoliths appear to have been enriched by metasomatic fluids related to silicate magmas and not to carbonatite magmas. Because of a complex multi-event history that affected the composition of the xenoliths, there is no simple geochemical relationship between magmatic or metamorphic history of the lower crust and upper mantle in the SWUS as reflected by the xenolith populations.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3919-3942
    Number of pages24
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Volume68
    Issue number19
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2004

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