Lithospheric control on geochemical composition along the Louisville Seamount Chain

Christoph Beier*, Loÿc Vanderkluysen, Marcel Regelous, John J. Mahoney, Dieter Garbe-Schnberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Major and trace element and Sr, Nd, and Pb isotope data for lavas from 12 seamounts along the western (older) 1500 km section of the Louisville Seamount Chain in the southwest Pacific show remarkably uniform compositions over a ∼30-40 Myr period of volcanism. All 56 samples analyzed are alkalic to transitional in composition. Unlike Hawaiian volcanoes, Louisville volcanoes appear not to pass through a sequence of evolutionary stages characterized by older tholeiitic basalts overlain by incompatible element enriched alkalic and silica-undersaturated lavas. The youngest lavas from a given Louisville seamount tend to have the least enriched incompatible element compositions. This unusual chemical evolution may be the result of re-melting of heterogeneous hot spot mantle that was partially depleted during the earlier, age progressive stages. The oldest Louisville seamounts were constructed close to the extinct Osbourn Trough spreading center, located north of the chain, but age-progressive lavas from these older seamounts are not significantly different to lavas from younger seamounts. This may indicate that spreading at this fossil ridge ceased several tens of millions of years before the oldest Louisville seamounts were constructed. Large fracture zones apparently had no significant effects on the composition of Louisville magmatism. However, lavas from the central part of the Louisville Seamount Chain, where volcanoes are smaller and more widely spaced, tend to have more variable and more enriched compositions. We suggest this may reflect smaller degrees of melting resulting from greater lithosphere thickness, and hence a shorter melting column for this section of the Louisville Seamounts.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberQ0AM01
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Erratum can be found in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, Volume 13(1), Q0AM03,


  • lithosphere thickness
  • Louisville Seamount Chain
  • melting dynamics
  • plume evolution
  • spreading centre


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