Geochemical evidence in the northeast Lau Basin for subduction of the Cook-Austral volcanic chain in the Tonga Trench Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Lau Basin basalts host an array of geochemical signatures that suggest incorporation of enriched mantle source material often associated with intraplate hotspots, but the origin of these signatures remain uncertain. Geochemical signatures associated with mantle material entrained from the nearby Samoan hotspot are present in northwest Lau Basin lavas, and subducted seamounts from the Louisville hotspot track may contribute geochemical signatures to the Tonga Arc. However, lavas in the northeast Lau Basin (NELB) have unique enriched geochemical signatures that cannot be related to these hotspots, but can be attributed to the subduction of seamounts associated with the Cook-Austral volcanic lineament. Here we present geochemical data on a new suite of NELB lavas—ranging in 40Ar/39Ar age from 1.3 Ma to 0.365 ka—that have extreme signatures of geochemical enrichment, including lavas with the highest 206Pb/204Pb (19.580) and among the lowest 143Nd/144Nd (0.512697) encountered in the Lau Basin to date. These signatures are linked to the canonical EM1 (enriched mantle 1) and HIMU (high-??=?238U/204Pb) mantle end-members, respectively. Using a plate reconstruction model, we show that older portions of the traces of two of the Cook-Austral hotspots that contributed volcanism to the Cook-Austral volcanic lineament—the Rarotonga and Rurutu hotspots—were potentially subducted in the Tonga Trench beneath the NELB. The geochemical signatures of the Rarotonga, Rurutu, and Samoan hotspots provide a compelling match to the extreme geochemical components observed in the new NELB lavas.

publication date

  • May 2016