We present new 238U-230 Th-226 Ra-210 Pb and supporting data for young lavas from southwest Pacific island arcs, Eyjafjallajökull, Iceland, and Terceira, Azores. The arc lavas have significant 238U and 226Ra excesses, whereas those from the ocean islands have moderate 230Th and 226Ra excesses, reflecting mantle melting in the presence of a water-rich fluid in the former and mantle melting by decompression in the latter. Differentiation to erupted compositions in both settings appears to have taken no longer than a few millennia. Variations in the (210Pb/226Ra)0 values in all settings largely result from degassing processes rather than mineral-melt partitioning. Like most other ocean island basalts, the Terceira basalt has a 210Pb deficit, which we attribute to ∼8.5 years of steady 222Rn loss to a CO2-rich volatile phase while it traversed the crust. Lavas erupted from water-laden magma systems, including those investigated here, commonly have near equilibrium (210Pb/226Ra)0 values. Maintaining these equilibrium values requires minimal persistent loss or accumulation of 222Rn in a gas phase. We infer that degassing during decompression of water-saturated magmas either causes these magmas to crystallize and stall in reservoirs where they reside under conditions of near stasis, or to quickly rise towards the surface and erupt.