Recycled oceanic crust in the form of pyroxenite contributing to the Cenozoic continental basalts in central Asia: new perspectives from olivine chemistry and whole-rock B–Mo isotopes

  • Yunying Zhang
  • Chao Yuan
  • Min SunEmail author
  • Ming Chen
  • Lubing Hong
  • Jie Li
  • Xiaoping Long
  • Pengfei Li
  • Zhengfan Lin
Original Paper


Cenozoic continental basalts are widespread in central Asia. To explore their source nature and petrogenesis, this study presents an integrated study of olivine chemistry, bulk-rock 40Ar/39Ar age and geochemistry as well as Sr–Nd–Pb–B–Mo isotopes for the Miocene (ca. 15.5 Ma) Halaqiaola basalts in the Chinese Altai, central Asia. The Halaqiaola basalts mostly have basanite compositions with high total alkali (Na2O + K2O = 6.89–8.01 wt%) contents and high K2O/Na2O (0.87–1.39) ratios. Compared with partial melting products of mantle peridotite, the basaltic samples possess lower CaO and CaO/Al2O3 but higher TiO2, Zn/Mn and Zn/Fe values. Meanwhile, olivine phenocrysts from these basalts are characterized by lower Ca, Ni and Mn contents but higher Fe/Mn ratios than their counterparts in the peridotitic melts, suggesting a pyroxenite-rich source. Moreover, these rocks show OIB-like trace element patterns (e.g., spikes of Ba, Sr, Nb and Ta and troughs of Th and U), and constant Nd but variable Sr and EM1-like Pb isotopic compositions, and yield light δ11B (– 11.0 to – 8.1‰) and δ98Mo (– 0.40 to – 0.06‰) values. The above geochemical data suggest that secondary pyroxenite was likely produced by reaction of recycled oceanic crust with its ambient peridotite and subsequently became the main source for the basanite. Furthermore, their light and variable δ98Mo values probably reflect that recycled oceanic crust involved in such pyroxenite was altered with different degrees. In combination with available data from adjacent regions, we propose that the far-field effect of India–Eurasia collision was the first-order factor for the upwelling of dispersive asthenospheric mantle beneath central Asia, subsequent melting of which gave rise to the widespread Cenozoic volcanism.


Central Asia Cenozoic continental basalts Pyroxenite Recycled oceanic crust Olivine chemistry B–Mo isotopes 



We thank Ms. Xinyu Wang, Shengling Sun and Xiao Fu, and Mr. Xianglin Tu, Jinlong Ma and Le Zhang, for their help with the geochemical analyses. We thank editor Jochen Hoefs for his kind editorial help and constructive comments. We are grateful to Jingao Liu and one anonymous reviewer, whose insightful and constructive reviews greatly improve this manuscript. This work was financially supported by the National Key R&D Program of China (2017YFC0601205), the National Science Foundation of China (41603030, 41573025), the Hong Kong RGC research projects (17303415, 17302317), and the CPSF–CAS Joint Foundation for Excellent Postdoctoral Fellows (2017LH019). This work is a contribution to the CAS–HKU Joint Laboratory of Chemical Geodynamics.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (XLSX 26 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 333 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yunying Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chao Yuan
    • 1
  • Min Sun
    • 2
    Email author
  • Ming Chen
    • 3
  • Lubing Hong
    • 1
  • Jie Li
    • 1
  • Xiaoping Long
    • 1
  • Pengfei Li
    • 1
  • Zhengfan Lin
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Isotope GeochemistryGuangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina
  3. 3.School of Earth SciencesChina University of GeosciencesWuhanChina

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