Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 305–317 | Cite as

Melting in the lithospheric mantle: Inverse modelling of alkali-olivine basalts from the Big Pine Volcanic Field, California

  • D. S. Ormerod
  • N. W. Rogers
  • C. J. Hawkesworth


The variations in trace element abundances of a suite of alkali-olivine basalts from the Big Pine volcanic field, California, have been ‘inverted’ following the method of Hofmann and co-workers to obtain source concentration and distribution coefficient data. The high Mg-numbers and ne-normative mineralogy of these lavas allow a simple correction to be made for fractional crystallisation, and together with a limited range in 87Sr/86Sr (0.7056–0.7064), suggest derivation from a relatively homogeneous source region. Negative correlations between SiO2 and P2O5, and SiO2 and Rb in the calculated primary magmas imply that both major and trace elements vary in a coherent fashion as a function of the degree of partial melting. The Big Pine lavas are characterised by high ratios of large-ion lithophile to high-field strength elements (Ba/Nb>60), and the inverse procedure demonstrates that this reflects source concentrations, as opposed to a mineralogical control. The calculated mantle source is further characterised by generally high abundances of Sr, Ba, K, and Th relative to Nb and Ta which imply that incompatible element enrichment of the source occurred above a subduction zone. A model Sm/Nd age of 1.8 Ga for this enrichment coincides with the regional crustal formation age. Such features imply that both the major and trace element components of the Big Pine lavas are derived from within lithospheric mantle, perhaps mobilised by the high geothermal gradients which characterise the extensional environment of the Basin and Range Province. A comparison with other Cenozoic mafic lavas throughout the western United States suggests that a substantial proportion of the mantle lithosphere in this area has similar chemical characteristics to the source of the Big Pine lavas. If this is the case, then it implies that convergent margins represent an important tectonic environment for the formation of lithospheric mantle.


Subduction Subduction Zone Lithospheric Mantle Volcanic Field Primary Magma 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. S. Ormerod
    • 1
  • N. W. Rogers
    • 1
  • C. J. Hawkesworth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK

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