Mechanism and timing of Pb transport from subducted oceanic crust and sediment to the mantle source of arc lavas

Marcel Regelous*, John A. Gamble, Simon P. Turner

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    New high-precision (double-spike) Pb isotope analyses of lavas from Tafahi and Niuatoputapu, the northernmost islands of the Tonga-Kermadec Island Arc, are used to examine the source of Pb in these samples, and the relative timing of Pb addition from the subducting oceanic crust and subducting sediment. Lavas from these islands have distinctive, radiogenic Pb isotope compositions, which are inherited from the basaltic crust of the subducting Louisville Seamount Chain on the Pacific Plate. The subducting oceanic plate and the overlying upper mantle beneath northern Tonga therefore have very different Pb isotope compositions, allowing the proportion of Pb derived from each of these sources, and from subducting sediment to be estimated. We show that between 42% and 90% of the Pb in northern Tonga lavas is derived from the basaltic crust of the subducting Louisville Seamount Chain. The dominant source of mantle Pb in arc lavas (at least in northern Tonga), is therefore subducted basaltic oceanic crust, rather than the overlying mantle wedge. The orientation of the Pb isotope arrays constrain the relative timing of Pb addition from these different sources, and show that sediment Pb must be mixed with the upper mantle before Pb from the subducted oceanic crust is added during a separate event. This observation is consistent with the results of experimental studies, which suggest that altered oceanic crust and sediment are likely to lose Pb by dehydration or melting at different depths. Melting of sediment at depths >120km, followed by migration of these melts to shallower levels within the overlying mantle, where Pb-bearing fluids derived from dehydration of oceanic crust trigger mantle melting, could explain the observed mixing relationships. Mass balance calculations show that the Pb flux into the arc magma source corresponds to the amount of Pb contained in the uppermost 67 to 143m of the subducting basaltic crust of the Louisville Seamount Chain. If this minimum estimate is representative of subduction zones worldwide, where 7km thick oceanic crust containing 0.5ppm Pb is subducted, then the average Nd/Pb ratio of the oceanic crust that is recycled into the deep mantle is decreased by at least 3.5% as a result of subduction.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)46-54
    Number of pages9
    JournalChemical Geology
    Volume273
    Issue number1-2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2010

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