Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 99, Issue 4, pp 446–463 | Cite as

He, Pb, Sr and Nd isotope constraints on magma genesis and mantle heterogeneity beneath young Pacific seamounts

  • David W. Graham
  • Alan Zindler
  • Mark D. Kurz
  • William J. Jenkins
  • Rodey Batiza
  • Hubert Staudigel


Pb, Sr and Nd isotope variations are correlated in diverse lavas erupted at small seamounts near the East Pacific Rise. Tholeiites are isotopically indistinguishable from MORB (206Pb/204Pb=18.1–18.5; 87Sr/86Sr=0.7023–0.7028; 143Nd/144Nd=0.51326-0.51308); associated alkali basalts always show more radiogenic Pb and Sr signatures (206Pb/204Pb=18.8–19.2; 87Sr/86Sr=0.7029–0.7031) and less radiogenic Nd (143Nd/144Nd=0.51289–0.51301). The isotopic variability covers ∼80% of the variability for Pacific MORB, due to the presence of small-scale heterogeneity in the underlying mantle. Isotope compositions also correlate with trace element ratios such as La/Sm. Tholeiites at these seamounts have 3He/4He between 7.8–8.7 RA(RA= atmospheric ratio), also indistinguishable from MORB. He trapped in vesicles of alkali basalts, released by crushing in vacuo, has low 3He/4He (1.2–2.6 R)Ain conjunction with low helium concentrations ([He]<5×10−8 ccSTP/g). In many cases post-eruptive radiogenic ingrowth has produced He isotope disequilibrium between vesicles and glass in the alkali basalts; subatmospheric 3He/4He ratios characterize the He dissolved in the glass which is released by melting the crushed powders. The narrow range of 3He/4He in the vesicles of the alkali basalts suggests that low 3He/4He is a source characteristic, but given their low [He] and high (U + Th), pre-eruptive radiogenic ingrowth cannot be excluded as a cause for low inherited 3He/4He ratios. Pb, Sr and Nd isotope compositions in lavas erupted at Shimada Seamount, an isolated volcano on 20 m.y. old seafloor at 17°N, are distinctly different from other seamounts in the East Pacific (206Pb/204Pb=18.8–19.0, 87Sr/ 86Sr≅0.7048 and 143Nd/144Nd≅0.51266). Relatively high 207Pb/204Pb (15.6–15.7) indicates ancient (>2 Ga) isolation of the source from the depleted upper mantle, similar to Dupal components which are more prevalent in the southern hemisphere mantle. 3He/4He at Shimada Seamount is between 3.9–4.8 RA. Because the helium concentrations range up to 1.5×10−6, the low 3He/4He can not be due to radiogenic accumulation of 4He in the magma for reasonable volcanic evolution times. The low 3He/4He may be due to the presence of “enriched” domains within the lithosphere with high (U + Th)/He ratios, possibly formed during its accretion near the ridge. Alternatively, the low 3He/4He may be an inherent characteristic of an enriched component in the mantle beneath the East Pacific. Collectively, the He-Pb-Sr-Nd isotope systematics at East Pacific seamounts suggest that the range of isotope compositions present in the mantle is more readily sampled by seamount and island volcanism than by axial volcanism. Beneath thicker lithosphere away from the ridge axis, smaller degrees of melting in the source regions are less efficient in averaging the chemical characteristics of small-scale heterogeneities.


Lithosphere 86Sr Alkali Basalt Ridge Axis Helium Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • David W. Graham
    • 1
  • Alan Zindler
    • 2
  • Mark D. Kurz
    • 1
  • William J. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Rodey Batiza
    • 3
  • Hubert Staudigel
    • 4
  1. 1.Woods Hole Oceanographic InstitutionWoods Hole
  2. 2.Lamont-Doherty Geological ObservatoryPalisadesUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geological SciencesNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA
  4. 4.Scripps Institution of OceanographyLa JollaUSA

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