Origin of Archean subcontinental lithospheric mantle: Some petrological constraints

N. T. Arndt*, N. Coltice, H. Helmstaedt, M. Gregoire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


The longevity of the continental lithosphere mantle is explained by its unusual composition. This part of the mantle is made up mainly of forsterite-rich olivine (Fo92-94), with or without orthopyroxene, and it is essentially anhydrous. The former characteristic makes it buoyant, the latter makes it viscous, and the combination of these features that allow it to remain isolated from the convecting mantle. Highly forsteritic olivine is not normally produced during mantle melting. Possible explanations for its abundance in old Archean subcontinental lithospheric mantle include: (a) high-degree mantle melting in a plume or at an Archean ocean ridge; (b) accretion of this material to older lithosphere and its reworking in a subduction zone; (c) redistribution of material to eliminate high-density, low-viscosity lithologies. Following an evaluation of these models based on petrological and numerical modeling, we conclude that the most likely explanation is the accumulation of the residues of melting of one or more mantle plumes following by gravity-driven ejection of denser, Fe-rich components.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-71
Number of pages11
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Archean
  • Lithosphere
  • Mantle
  • Olivine

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