Mantle Plume Helium in Submarine Basalts from the Galápagos Platform

Science  24 Dec 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5142, pp. 2023-2026
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5142.2023


Helium-3/helium-4 ratios in submarine basalt glasses from the Galapagos Archipelago range up to 23 times the atmospheric ratio in the west and southwest. These results indicate the presence of a relatively undegassed mantle plume at the Galápagos hot spot and place Galápagos alongside Hawaii, Iceland, and Samoa as the only localities known to have such high helium-3/helium-4 ratios. Lower ratios across the rest of the Galápagos Archipelago reflect systematic variations in the degree of dilution of the plume by entrainment of depleted material from the asthenosphere. These spatial variations reveal the dynamics of the underlying mantle plume and its interaction with the nearby Galápagos Spreading Center.