The lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary (LAB) depth represents a fundamental parameter in any quantitative lithospheric model, controlling to a large extent the temperature distribution within the crust and the uppermost mantle. The tectonic history of Ireland includes early Paleozoic closure of the Iapetus Ocean across the Iapetus Suture Zone (ISZ), and in northeastern Ireland late Paleozoic to early Mesozoic crustal extension, during which thick Permo-Triassic sedimentary successions were deposited, followed by early Cenozoic extrusion of large scale flood basalts. Although the crustal structure in Ireland and neighboring offshore areas is fairly well constrained, with the notable exception of the crust beneath Northern Ireland, the Irish uppermost mantle remains to date relatively unknown. In particular, the nature and extent of a hypothetical interaction between a putative proto Icelandic mantle plume and the Irish and Scottish lithosphere during the Tertiary opening of the North Atlantic has long been discussed in the literature with diverging conclusions. In this work, the present-day thermal and compositional structure of the lithosphere in Ireland is modeled based on a geophysical-petrological approach (LitMod3D) that combines comprehensively a large variety of data (namely elevation, surface heat flow, potential fields, xenoliths and seismic tomography models), reducing the inherent uncertainties and trade-offs associated with classical modeling of those individual data sets. The preferred 3D lithospheric models show moderate lateral density variations in Ireland characterized by a slightly thickened lithosphere along the SW-NE trending ISZ, and a progressive lithospheric thinning from southern Ireland towards the north. The mantle composition in the southern half of Ireland (East Avalonia) is relatively and uniformly fertile (i.e., typical Phanerozoic mantle), whereas the lithospheric composition in the northern half of Ireland (Laurentia) seems to vary from moderately depleted to fertile, in agreement with mantle xenoliths erupted in northwestern Ireland.
- Geophysical-petrological modeling
- Lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary
- Mantle composition
- Seismic tomography