Magmatic evolution and source variations at the Nifonea Ridge (New Hebrides Island Arc)

S. M. Lima*, K. M. Haase, C. Beier, M. Regelous, P. A. Brandl, F. Hauff, S. Krumm

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The Nifonea submarine volcano rises 1000m above the seafloor of the Vate Trough back-arc basin behind the New Hebrides island arc. This large volcanic edifice has a caldera of 8kmdiameter and is connected to two 20km long volcanic rift zones in the back-arc basin. We present new chemical and isotope data for volcanic glasses and whole-rocks from both the volcano and its rift zones. Lavas from Nifonea volcano show an evolution towards more incompatible element enrichment, with the most enriched lavas being the youngest eruption products on the caldera floor. These are products of significant fractional crystallization, show minor contamination by hydrothermal fluids (<0.3%) and reflect mixing of melts derived from depleted upper mantle and melts from an enriched source similar to those occurring in the North Fiji Basin. The enrichment in Nb of these lavas is comparable with that of some lavas from the New Hebrides island arc (e.g. Mota Lava island), where these coexist with typical island arc basalts. The lavas erupted along the rift zones in the Vate Trough back-arc basin are relatively depleted in incompatible elements, indicating melting of depleted upper mantle with a minor addition of a sediment-derived fluid. Our observations suggest that the mantle beneath Vate Trough is heterogeneous on a small scale (<20km) and that the occurrence of these enriched and fertile mantle portions has a stronger control on melting processes than the influx from the subducting slab, as all samples were recovered at a similar distance from the trench.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberegx023
Pages (from-to)473-494
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Back-arc melting
  • Mantle heterogeneity
  • Nb-enriched basalts
  • New Hebrides island arc


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