Lithium isotope variations in Tonga–Kermadec arc–Lau back-arc lavas and Deep Sea Drilling Project (DSDP) Site 204 sediments

Raul Brens Jr., Xiao-Ming Liu, Simon Turner, Tracy Rushmer*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    Lithium isotopes have been identified as a promising tracer of subducted materials in arc lavas due to the observable variations in related reservoirs such as subducting sediments and altered oceanic crust. The Tonga–Kermadec arc–Lau back-arc provides an end-member of subduction zones with the coldest thermal structure on Earth. Reported here are Li isotope data for 14 lavas from the arc front and 7 back-arc lavas as well as 12 pelagic and volcaniclastic sediments along a profile through the sedimentary sequence at DSDP Site 204. The arc and back-arc lavas range from basalts to dacites in composition with SiO2 = 48.3–65.3 wt% over which Li concentrations increase from 2 ppm to 16 ppm. Li/Y ratios range from 0.08 to 0.77 and from 0.24 to 0.65 in the arc and back-arc lavas, respectively. The majority of the lavas have δ7Li that ranges from 2.5 ‰ to 5.0 ‰ with an average of (3.6 ±0.7) ‰, similar to that reported from other arcs and there is no distinction between the arc front and back-arc lavas. The pelagic sediments have variable Li concentrations (33–133 ppm) and δ7Li that ranges from 1.2 ‰ to 10.2 ‰ while the volcaniclastic sediments have an even greater range of Li concentrations (3.6–165 ppm) and generally higher δ7Li values (8–14 ‰). However, δ7Li in the lavas does not correlate with commonly used trace element ratio or isotope signatures indicative of slab-derived fluids or the sediments. This is probably because the range of δ7Li in the lavas and sediments overlap. Calculated sediment mass-balance models require significantly more sediment than previous estimates based on Th–Nd–Be isotopes. This may indicate that a sizeable proportion of the total Li budget in the lavas is provided by Li-enriched fluids from the subducting sediments and/or altered oceanic crust.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere12276
    Pages (from-to)1-10
    Number of pages10
    JournalIsland Arc
    Issue number1
    Early online date9 Oct 2018
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


    • DSDP 204 sediment profile
    • Lau back-arc
    • Li isotopes
    • recycling Tonga–Kermadec arc


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