Genetic Relations of Oceanic Basalts as Indicated by Lead Isotopes

Science  02 Sep 1966:
Vol. 153, Issue 3740, pp. 1094-1101
DOI: 10.1126/science.153.3740.1094


The isotopic compositions of lead and the concentrations lead, uranium, and thorium in samples of oceanic tholeiite and alkali suites are determined, and the genetic relations of the oceanic basalts are discussed. Lead of the oceanic tholeiites has a varying lead-206: lead-204 ratio between 17.8 and 18.8, while leads of the alkali basalt suites from Easter Island and Guadalupe Island are very radiogenic with lead-206: lead-204 ratios between 19.3 and 20.4 It is concluded that (i) the isotopic composition of lead in oceanic tholeiite suggests that the upper mantle source region of the tholeiite was differentiated from and original mantle material more than 1 billion years ago and that the upper mantle is not homogeneous at the present time, (ii) less than 20 million years was required for the crystal differentiation within the alkali suite from Easter Island, (iii) no crustal contamination was involved in the course of differentiation of rocks from Easter Island; however, some crustal contamination may have affected Guadalupe Island rocks, and (iv) alkali basalt may be produced from the tholeiite in the oceanic region by crystal differentiation. Alternatively the difference in the isotopic composition of lead in oceanic basalts may be produced by partial melting at different depths of a differentiated upper mantle.