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Metasomatized Lithosphere and the Origin of Alkaline Lavas

Science  16 May 2008:
Vol. 320, Issue 5878, pp. 916-919
DOI: 10.1126/science.1156563

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Abstract

Recycled oceanic crust, with or without sediment, is often invoked as a source component of continental and oceanic alkaline magmas to account for their trace-element and isotopic characteristics. Alternatively, these features have been attributed to sources containing veined, metasomatized lithosphere. In melting experiments on natural amphibole-rich veins at 1.5 gigapascals, we found that partial melts of metasomatic veins can reproduce key major- and trace-element features of oceanic and continental alkaline magmas. Moreover, experiments with hornblendite plus lherzolite showed that reaction of melts of amphibole-rich veins with surrounding lherzolite can explain observed compositional trends from nephelinites to alkali olivine basalts. We conclude that melting of metasomatized lithosphere is a viable alternative to models of alkaline basalt formation by melting of recycled oceanic crust with or without sediment.

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