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Origin of ocean island basalts : a new perspective from petrology, geochemistry and mineral physics considerations.

Niu, Y. and O’Hara, M. J. (2003) 'Origin of ocean island basalts : a new perspective from petrology, geochemistry and mineral physics considerations.', Journal of geophysical research : solid earth., 108 (B4). p. 2209.


Consideration of petrology, geochemistry, and mineral physics suggests that ancient subducted oceanic crusts cannot be the source materials supplying ocean island basalts (OIB). Melting of oceanic crusts cannot produce high-magnesian OIB lavas. Ancient oceanic crusts (>1 Ga) are isotopically too depleted to meet the required values of most OIB. Subducted oceanic crusts that have passed through subduction zone dehydration are likely to be depleted in water-soluble incompatible elements (e.g., Ba, Rb, Cs, U, K, Sr, Pb) relative to water-insoluble incompatible elements (e.g., Nb, Ta, Zr, Hf, Ti). Melting of residual crusts with such trace element composition cannot produce OIB. Oceanic crusts, if subducted into the lower mantle, will be >2% denser than the ambient mantle at shallow lower mantle depths. This negative buoyancy will impede return of the subducted oceanic crusts into the upper mantle. If subducted oceanic crusts melt at the base of the mantle, the resultant melts are even denser than the ambient peridotitic mantle, perhaps by as much as similar to15%. Neither in the solid state nor in melt form can bulk oceanic crusts subducted into the lower mantle return to upper mantle source regions of oceanic basalts. Deep portions of recycled oceanic lithosphere are important geochemical reservoirs hosting volatiles and incompatible elements as a result of metasomatism taking place at the interface between the low-velocity zone and the cooling and thickening oceanic lithosphere. These metasomatized and recycled deep portions of oceanic lithosphere are the most likely candidates for OIB sources in terms of petrology, geochemistry and mineral physics.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:OIB sources, Mantle plumes, Recycled ocean crust, Oceanic lithosphere, Low-velocity zone metasomatism, Mantle convection.
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Publisher statement:© 2003 American Geophysical Union. Niu, Y., O’Hara, M. J. (2003) 'Origin of ocean island basalts: a new perspective from petrology, geochemistry and mineral physics considerations', Journal of geophysical research: solid earth, 108 (B4), 2209, 10.1029/2002JB002048 (DOI). To view the published open abstract, go to and enter the DOI.
Date accepted:30 December 2002
Date deposited:23 March 2010
Date of first online publication:April 2003
Date first made open access:No date available

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