Xenocrystic zircons from Cretaceous pyroclastic vents on Mt. Carmel, N. Israel, document two major periods of earlier mafic magmatism: Permo-Triassic (285–220 Ma) and Jurassic (200–160 Ma). Related alluvial deposits also contain these zircon populations. However, most alluvial zircons are Cretaceous (118–80 Ma) or younger, derived from Miocene to Pliocene volcanic episodes. The Permo-Triassic-Jurassic zircons are typically large and glassy; they have irregular shapes and a wide variety of internal zoning patterns. They appear to have grown in the interstitial spaces of coarse-grained rocks; many show evidence of recrystallization, including brecciation and rehealing by chemically similar zircon. Grains with relict igneous zoning have mantle-like δ18O (5.5 ± 1.0‰), but brecciation leads to lower values (mean 4.8‰ down to 3.1‰). Hf-isotope compositions lie midway between the Chondritic Uniform Reservoir (CHUR) and Depleted Mantle (DM) reservoirs; Hf model ages suggest that the source region separated from DM in Neoproterozoic time (1500–1000 Ma). Most Cretaceous zircons have 176Hf/177Hf similar to those of the older zircons, suggesting recrystallization and/or Pb loss from older zircons in the Cretaceous thermal event. The Permo-Jurassic zircons show trace-element characteristics similar to those crystallized from plume-related magmas (Iceland, Hawaii). Calculated melts in equilibrium with them are characterized by strong depletion in LREE and P, large positive Ce anomalies, variable Ti anomalies, and high and variable Nb, Ta, Th and U, consistent with the fractionation of monazite, zircon, apatite and Ti-bearing phases. We suggest that these coarse-grained zircons crystallized from late differentiates of mafic magmas, ponded near the crust-mantle boundary (ca 30 km depth), and were reworked repeatedly by successively younger igneous/metasomatic fluids.
The zircon data support a published model that locates a fossil Neoproterozoic plume head beneath much of the Arabia-Levant region, which has been intermittently melted to generate the volcanic rocks of the region. The Cretaceous magmas carry mantle xenoliths derived from depths up to 90 km, providing a minimum depth for the possible plume head. Post-Cretaceous magmatism, as recorded in detrital zircons, shows distinct peaks at 30 Ma, 13 Ma, 11.4 ± 0.1 Ma (a major peak; n = 15), 9–10 Ma and 4 Ma, representing the Lower and Cover Basalts in the area. Some of these younger magmas tapped the same mantle source as the Permian-Jurassic magmatism, but many young zircons have Hf-isotope compositions extending up to DM values, suggesting derivation of magmas from deeper, more juvenile sources.