Composition of Basalts from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge

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Science  12 Jun 1964:
Vol. 144, Issue 3624, pp. 1330-1333
DOI: 10.1126/science.144.3624.1330


Studies of volcanic rocks in dredge hauls from the submerged parts of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge suggest that it consists largely of tholeiitic basalt with low values of K, Ti, and P. In contrast, the volcanic islands which form the elevated caps on the Ridge are built of alkali basalt with high values of Ti, Fe3+, P, Na, and K. This distinct correlation between the form of the volcanic structures, elevation above the sea floor, and composition suggests that the islands of alkali basalt are derived from a parent tholeiitic magma by differentiation in shallow reservoirs. The volume of low-potassium tholeiites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and elsewhere in the oceans appears to be many times that of the alkali basalts exposed on oceanic islands. Tholeiitic basalts with about 0.2 K2O appear to be the primary and predominant magma erupted on the oceanic floor.