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Large iron isotope variation in the eastern Pacific mantle as a consequence of ancient low-degree melt metasomatism.

Sun, P. and Niu, Yaoling and Guo, P.Y. and Duan, M. and Chen, S. and Gong, H.M. and Wang, X.H. and Xiao, Y.Y. (2020) 'Large iron isotope variation in the eastern Pacific mantle as a consequence of ancient low-degree melt metasomatism.', Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta., 286 . pp. 269-288.


Studies of mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) have revealed a heterogeneous asthenospheric mantle in chemical elements and radiogenic isotopes. Here we report that MORB mantle is also heterogeneous in Fe isotopes through studying the glass samples from seamounts flanking the northern East Pacific Rise between 5° and 15°N. These samples show large Fe isotope variation with δ56Fe values (+ 0.03‰ to + 0.36‰) exceeding the known range of MORB (+ 0.05‰ to + 0.17‰). Such highly varied δ56Fe values cannot be well explained by seafloor alteration, fractional crystallization or partial melting processes, but instead require a source mantle significantly heterogeneous in Fe isotope compositions. Importantly, the δ56Fe values of these basalts correlate significantly with major and trace elements and Sr-Nd-Pb-Hf radiogenic isotopes, reflecting melting-induced mixing of a two-component mantle with the enriched component having heavy Fe isotope compositions dispersed as physically distinct domains in the depleted mantle matrix. The major and trace element characteristics of the enriched mantle component, as inferred from these basalts, are consistent with a low-degree melting origin. Such low-degree melts with heavy Fe isotope compositions most likely formed at sites such as the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary beneath ocean basins, which can metasomatize the overlying oceanic lithosphere by crystallizing dikes/veins of garnet pyroxenite lithologies. Recycling of these dikes/veins with isotopically heavier Fe can readily contribute to the Fe isotope heterogeneity in the MORB mantle. However, the extremely high primitive δ56Fe values of the two alkali basalts (up to 0.34‰) require an enriched source component with unusually high δ56Fe values. We suggest that partial melts from the recycled dikes/veins of garnet pyroxenite lithologies can react with the ambient peridotitic mantle and generate a secondary garnet pyroxenite with heavier Fe isotope compositions than, but similar radiogenic isotope compositions as its precursor. Melting-induced mixing between these garnet pyroxenites (recycled and newly formed) and depleted mantle matrix can readily explain the compositional variations in elements, radiogenic isotopes and Fe isotopes observed in these seamount lavas. These new data and correlated variations offer a new dimension for understanding the origin of mantle chemical and isotopic heterogeneity in the context of chemical differentiation of the Earth.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.
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Publisher statement:© 2020 This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Date accepted:20 July 2020
Date deposited:21 July 2020
Date of first online publication:30 July 2020
Date first made open access:30 July 2021

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