Davies, G. F. (2009), Reconciling the geophysical and geochemical mantles: Plume flows, heterogeneities, and disequilibrium, Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., 10, Q10008

Geophysical evidence and numerical models of mantle stirring imply the source of mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs) comprises most of the mantle, excepting only the D″ region and the “superpile” anomalies deep under Africa and the Pacific. Geophysical evidence is also strong that the mantle is heated substantially from within. Geochemical inferences of a strongly depleted MORB source are inconsistent with this picture because they would require the MORB source to be heated mainly from below and because they cannot accommodate all of the Earth's incompatible elements. Lacking any other large mantle reservoir, the MORB source is required to balance the global uranium budget, which implies a U concentration of about 10 ng/g, more than double recent estimates. The MORB source would then have been depleted only by a factor of two in highly incompatible elements, rather than four or more, relative to is primitive composition. Both geophysical and geochemical evidence support a heterogeneous, multicomponent MORB source. Surprisingly, former plume material may comprise 25% of the MORB source, and this alone could add 50–100% to previous inventories of incompatible elements.



Previous geochemical estimates may also be less secure because of a continuing focus on the more common, more depleted MORBs, because of long chains of geochemical inference, and because of a reliance on peridotites that may not have equilibrated with the mean composition of the heterogeneous source. Mean compositions are of most geophysical relevance, rather than putative end-member compositions, but mean compositions will be difficult to estimate accurately because more enriched components are less common and more variable. Nevertheless, a reconciliation of geochemical and geophysical inferences seems possible. - G. Davies


Davies, G. F. (2009), Reconciling the geophysical and geochemical mantles: Plume flows, heterogeneities, and disequilibriumGeochem. Geophys. Geosyst.10, Q10008, doi:10.1029/2009GC002634.