Lithospheric memory of subduction in mantle pyroxenite xenoliths from rift-related basalts

Jianggu Lu*, Romain Tilhac, William L. Griffin, Jianping Zheng, Qing Xiong, Beñat Oliveira, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Petrological and geochemical studies have revealed the contribution of garnet pyroxenites in basalt petrogenesis. However, whether primary mantle melts are produced with such signature or acquired it subsequently remains somewhat controversial. We here integrate new major-, trace-element and Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic compositions of garnet pyroxenite xenoliths in Holocene alkali basalts from Lakes Bullenmerri and Gnotuk, Southeastern Australia, to relate their petrogenesis to mantle-wedge melt circulation and subsequent lithospheric evolution. Results show that the clinopyroxenites have lower MgO and Cr2O3 contents than the associated websterites, and range in compositions from depleted LREE patterns and highly radiogenic Nd and Hf isotopic signatures in relatively low-MgO samples (Type 1), to enriched REE patterns with negative HFSE anomalies, unradiogenic Nd and Hf isotopes, and extremely radiogenic Sr-isotopic ratios in samples with higher MgO (Type 2). Such compositional variabilities suggest that these pyroxenites represent segregates from melts derived from a recycled oceanic lithosphere with a potential contribution from pelagic sediments. Variable LREE contents and isotopic compositions between those of Type 1 and 2 clinopyroxenites are observed in amphibole-bearing samples (Type 3), which are interpreted as Type 1-like protoliths metasomatized by the basaltic and carbonatitic melts, possibly parental to Type 2 clinopyroxenites. The lithosphere beneath Southeastern Australia thus has received variable melt contributions from a heterogeneous mantle-wedge source, which notably includes a subducted oceanic slab package that has retained its integrity during subduction. On this basis, we suggest that the compositional heterogeneity and temporal evolution of the subsequent Southeastern Australian basaltic magmatism were probably affected by the presence of pyroxenite fragments in the basalt source and formed by the tectonic reactivation of this lithosphere during Cenozoic rifting. This interpretation is notably consistent with a trend of Nd-Pb isotopes towards EMII in Older Volcanic Provinces (OVP basalts) and limited Sr-Nd-Pb isotopic variations towards HIMU in the Newer Volcanic Provinces (NVP basalts, including the host lavas), which also exhibit low SiO2, high FeO and high CaO/Al2O3 commonly interpreted as due to pyroxenite contributions. Therefore, the identification of a subduction signature in these rift-related lavas attests to a “lithospheric memory” of earlier subduction episodes (as documented by the xenoliths), rather than a reflection of contemporaneous subduction tectonics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116365
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2020


  • clinopyroxenite
  • melt-peridotite interaction
  • carbonatite metasomatism
  • recycled sediments
  • mantle wedge
  • Southeastern Australia


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