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Rogue Mantle Helium and Neon

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Science  15 Feb 2008:
Vol. 319, Issue 5865, pp. 943-945
DOI: 10.1126/science.1150060

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Abstract

The canonical model of helium isotope geochemistry describes the lower mantle as undegassed, but this view conflicts with evidence of recycled material in the source of ocean island basalts. Because mantle helium is efficiently extracted by magmatic activity, it cannot remain in fertile mantle rocks for long periods of time. Here, I suggest that helium with high 3He/4He ratios, as well as neon rich in the solar component, diffused early in Earth's history from low-melting-point primordial material into residual refractory “reservoir” rocks, such as dunites. The difference in 3He/4He ratios of ocean-island and mid-ocean ridge basalts and the preservation of solar neon are ascribed to the reservoir rocks being stretched and tapped to different extents during melting.

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