Geochemical evidence for melt migration and reaction in the upper mantle
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THE segregation of melts from the Earth’s upper mantle into the crust is an important process in the chemical evolution of the crust-mantle system. The processes of melt formation and migration in the upper mantle are inadequately understood, but some important characteristics of these processes can be inferred from upper-mantle rocks exposed at the Earth’s surface. The Horoman peridotite body in northern Japan is a layered upper-mantle rock. The major-element compositions of the layers are consistent with their formation as residues from varying extents of melting; however, abundances of rare-earth elements (REE) require additional processes to have occurred1, such as post-melting enrichment (metasomatism) resulting from reaction with a migrating fluid phase. We report here that chondrite-normalized REE patterns in clinopyroxenes show abrupt changes in slope, which vary with stratigraphic position and rock type. These data can be modelled by chromatographic fractionation as melts migrated through and interacted with peridotite, creating compositional heterogeneities in the upper mantle. In the Horoman peridotite these heterogeneities occur on a scale length of tens of metres.