High field strength element/rare earth element fractionation during partial melting in the presence of garnet

Implications for identification of mantle heterogeneities

Wim Van Westrenen, Jonathan D. Blundy, Bernard J. Wood

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    116 Citations (Scopus)


    A synthesis of recent garnet-melt trace element partitioning data for key trace elements (Ti, Hf, Zr, U, Th, Sm, and Yb) is used to compare and contrast the trace element signatures imparted on mantle melts by garnets from peridotitic and eclogitic source rocks. Garnet-melt partition coefficients DGrt/Melt are very sensitive to changes in garnet major element composition. Specifically, high-pressure, high-temperature experimental studies show that high field strength elements (HFSE) Zr, Hf, and Ti are incompatible in garnets with <19 ± 1 mol% Ca on their X site, with DTi < DZr ≤ DHf < 1, while at higher Ca levels, all three become compatible with DZr > DHf > DTi > 1. U and Th also have higher partition coefficients at higher garnet Ca contents, while the amount of fractionation between the two decreases. In contrast, the heavy rare earth element partition coefficients DHREE are hardly affected by a change in garnet Ca content. We provide a semiquantitative explanation for the behavior of the high field strength elements based on a crystal lattice strain model in which Zr and Hf are split between the X and Y sites in Ca-rich garnet and in which significant changes in garnet elasticity occur as a function of garnet composition. The large variations in both absolute DGrt/Melt values and DGrt/Melt ratios (e.g., DZr/DYb), in conjunction with compositional differences between natural peridotitic (Ca poor) and eclogitic (Ca richer) garnets, allow identification of trace element ratios that may best serve as a fingerprint for the presence of eclogitic garnet. We present simple batch melting calculations for two end-member melting scenarios (anhydrous garnet peridotite melting and anhydrous bimineralic eclogite melting). Our calculations show that near-uniform Zr/HREE and Hf/HREE as a function of melt fraction, in combination with Hf/Sm and Zr/Sm ratios that are smaller than the source ratio, could serve as fingerprints for the presence of Ca-rich garnet in the source of mantle melts. Our calculations show that it is impossible to define one unique "garnet signature" to determine the presence or absence of garnet in basalt sources but rather that different garnet-bearing sources are likely to produce distinctly different "garnet signatures."

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2001


    • garnet
    • high field strength elements
    • mantle heterogeneities
    • Partitioning

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