Magma-magma interaction in the mantle beneath eastern China

Gang Zeng, Li Hui Chen*, Xun Yu, Jian Qiang Liu, Xi Sheng Xu, Saskia Erdmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


In addition to magma-rock and rock-rock reaction, magma-magma interaction at mantle depth has recently been proposed as an alternative mechanism to produce the compositional diversity of intraplate basalts. However, up to now no compelling geochemical evidence supports this novel hypothesis. Here we present geochemistry for the Longhai basalts from Fujian Province, southeastern China, which demonstrates the interaction between two types of magma at mantle depth. At Longhai, the basalts form two groups, low-Ti basalts (TiO2/MgO < 0.25) and high-Ti basalts (TiO2/MgO > 0.25). Calculated primary compositions of the low-Ti basalts have compositions close to L + Opx + Cpx + Grt cotectic, and they also have low CaO contents (7.1-8.1 wt %), suggesting a mainly pyroxenite source. Correlations of Ti/Gd and Zr/Hf with the Sm/Yb ratios, however, record binary mixing between the pyroxenite-derived melt and a second, subordinate source-derived melt. Melts from this second source component have low Ti/Gd and high Zr/Hf and Ca/Al ratios, thus likely representing a carbonated component. The Sr, Nd, Hf, and Pb isotopic compositions of the high-Ti basalts are close to the low-Ti basalts. The Sm/Yb ratio of the high-Ti basalts, however, is markedly elevated and characterized by crossing rare earth element patterns at Ho, suggesting that they have source components comparable to the low-Ti basalts, but that they have experienced garnet and clinopyroxene fractionation. We posit that mingling of SiO2-saturated tholeiitic magma with SiO2-undersaturated alkaline magma might trigger such fractionation. Therefore, the model of magma-magma interaction and associated deep evolution of magma in the mantle is proposed to explain the formation of Longhai basalts. It may, moreover, serve as a conceptual model for the formation of tholeiitic to alkaline intraplate basalts worldwide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2763–2779
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Carbonated mantle
  • Intraplate basalts
  • Magma-magma interaction
  • Pyroxenite
  • Recycling of oceanic crust


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