U-Th Isotopes in Arc Magmas: Implications for Element Transfer from the Subducted Crust

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Science  25 Apr 1997:
Vol. 276, Issue 5312, pp. 551-555
DOI: 10.1126/science.276.5312.551

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Uranium-thorium isotope results from island arc volcanic rocks were used to investigate the rates of transfer of fluids and sediments from the downgoing slab. Uranium, but not thorium, is readily mobilized in the fluid. A negative array between thorium/cerium and neodymium-143/neodymium-144 indicates that significant amounts of the thorium in arc rocks are derived from subducted sediments, although perhaps only about 30 percent of the thorium in subducted sediments is returned to the crust in this way. The transfer times for fluid through the mantle wedge are about 30,000 to 120,000 years, whereas those for sediment melts may be several million years. The low average uranium/thorium ratios of bulk crust primarily reflect different crustal generation processes in the Archaean.

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