An assessment of upper mantle heterogeneity based on abyssal peridotite isotopic compositions Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Abyssal peridotites, the depleted solid residues of ocean ridge melting, are the most direct samples available to assess upper oceanic mantle composition. We present detailed isotope and trace element analyses of pyroxene mineral separates from Southwest Indian Ridge abyssal peridotites and pyroxenites in order to constrain the size and length scale of mantle heterogeneity. Our results demonstrate that the mantle can be highly heterogeneous to <1 km and even <0.1 m length scales. Examination of Nd isotopes in relation to modal, trace, and major element compositions indicate that the length scales and amplitudes of heterogeneities in abyssal peridotites reflect both ancient mantle heterogeneity and recent modification by melting, melt-rock reaction and melt crystallization. The isotopic and trace element compositions of pyroxenite veins in this study indicate that they are not direct remnants of recycled oceanic crust, but instead are formed by recent melt crystallization. Combined with existing data sets, the results show that the average global isotopic composition of peridotites is similar to that of mid-ocean ridge basalts, though peridotites extend to significantly more depleted 143Nd/144Nd and 87Sr/86Sr. Standard isotope evolution models of upper mantle composition do not predict the full isotopic range observed among abyssal peridotites, as they do not account adequately for the complexities of ancient and recent melting processes.

publication date

  • December 17, 2009