Geochemical characteristics of the La Réunion mantle plume source inferred from olivine-hosted melt inclusions from the adventive cones of Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island)

  • Marina ValerEmail author
  • Pierre Schiano
  • Patrick Bachèlery
Original Paper


Major and trace element compositions were obtained for bulk rocks and melt inclusions hosted in olivine crystals (Fo > 85) from the adventive cones of the Piton de La Fournaise volcano (La Réunion Island). Ratios of highly incompatible trace elements for these magmas are used to identify the nature of the La Réunion mantle plume source. Although adventive cone lavas display unusual major element compositions compared to the historical lavas of the volcano (e.g., lower CaO/Al2O3), trace element data suggest that the magmas emitted by the adventive cones originate from a common chemical source. This source may correspond to either a homogeneous mixed source of different mantle components or a near-primitive less-differentiated mantle source. The melt inclusions display ratios of highly incompatible elements (e.g., Th/La, Nb/La) which are similar to primitive mantle values, and lower Nb/U ratios compared to most oceanic basalts. These results and previous isotopic and trace element data suggest that La Réunion plume samples a source which is intermediate between a primitive-like mantle domain and a slightly depleted one almost unaffected by the recycling processes. This source could have originated from early depletion of the primitive mantle. Assuming a depletion 4.45 Gyr ago, ~10% melting of this slightly depleted source could explain the enriched trace element concentrations of the melt inclusions.


Mantle source La Réunion plume Melt inclusions Trace elements Ocean Island Basalts Piton de la Fournaise 



We thank J.L Devidal for assistance with the in situ analyses (electron microprobe and LA ICP-MS) and K. Suchorski for assistance in the clean-laboratory facilities. We are also grateful to M. Benbakkar and J-L. Piro for whole rock concentration analyses (major and trace elements, respectively). N. Cluzel is acknowledged for his help during melt inclusion preparation and microthermometry experiments, and I. Vlastélic for very helpful discussions. We are grateful to F. Poitrasson and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments, which have considerably improved our manuscript. We also thank P. Mairine for his help in fieldwork and discussions, and B.G.J. Upton for providing some of the rock samples and sharing his unpublished data. F. van Wyk de Vries is also acknowledged for the English reading. Finally, we thank the OVPF team and the laboratory of Géosciences Réunion at the University of La Réunion for their welcome and their help with fieldwork. This is contribution number 262 of the French ANR Centre of Excellence Programme “ClerVolc”.

Supplementary material

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratoire Magmas et VolcansUniversité Clermont Auvergne - CNRS - IRD, OPGCAubière CedexFrance

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