Osmium Isotopic Evidence for Mesozoic Removal of Lithospheric Mantle Beneath the Sierra Nevada, California

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Science  15 Sep 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5486, pp. 1912-1916
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5486.1912

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Thermobarometric and Os isotopic data for peridotite xenoliths from late Miocene and younger lavas in the Sierra Nevada reveal that the lithospheric mantle is vertically stratified: the shallowest portions (<45 to 60 kilometers) are cold (670° to 740°C) and show evidence for heating and yield Proterozoic Os model ages, whereas the deeper portions (45 to 100 kilometers) yield Phanerozoic Os model ages and show evidence for extensive cooling from temperatures >1100°C to 750°C. Because a variety of isotopic evidence suggests that the Sierran batholith formed on preexisting Proterozoic lithosphere, most of the original lithospheric mantle appears to have been removed before the late Miocene, leaving only a sliver of ancient mantle beneath the crust.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ctlee{at}

  • Present address: Department of Geology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.

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