Salters et al. (2011), G-Cubed, Domains of depleted mantle: New evidence from hafnium and neodymium isotopes

Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst., v. 12, Q08001, 18 PP., 2011


Isotope systematics of basalts provide information on the distribution of mantle components and the length scale of mantle heterogeneity. To obtain this information high data and sampling density are crucial. We present hafnium and neodymium isotope data on more than four hundred oceanic volcanics. Over length scales of several hundred to over one thousand kilometers hafnium and neodymium isotopes of mid-ocean ridge basalts are correlated and form an array of parallel trends on a global scale. On a larger scale these domains differ in the amount of highly depleted mantle material with radiogenic hafnium and neodymium isotope ratios. Compared to the Atlantic and Indian Ocean basin the asthenosphere of the Pacific basin seems to have more uniform and a less radiogenic Hf isotopic composition for given Nd isotopic composition.


The parallel arrays of mid-ocean ridge basalts provide strong constraints on the make-up of the MORB mantle and are evidence for the presence of a highly depleted and highly radiogenic neodymium and hafnium component. This component, because of its highly depleted character, is unrecognized in the strontium-neodymium-lead isotope systems alone. Alternatively, the parallel arrays can have an ancient origin of systematic variations in the degree of depletion. Each array then represents the variations in this fossil melting regime.


Individual ocean island basalt suites display different slopes in hafnium-neodymium isotope space, which are also best explained by varying amounts highly residual mantle rather than isotopic differences in enriched mantle components as previously invoked. The ocean island basalt arrays diverge at the depleted end and project to radiogenic compositions that are similar to those of the asthenosphere through which they travel. This is strong evidence that the plume material interacts with its surrounding mantle as it ascends. The isotopic compositions of the ocean island and ridge basalts suggest that their systematics are influenced by a heretofore unrecognized depleted component.


The PetDB database was used to search for areas along the ridge where enough Hf and Nd isotope data is available to assess whether these two isotope systems are correlated. The figure shows the correlations between Hf and Nd isotopes for the individual ridge segments.


- V. Salters (Oct. 2011)

You can access the data set from the Geochemical Resource Library here: