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A comparison of Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes in young and old continental lithospheric mantle: Patagonia and eastern China

January 1, 1991

It is commonly accepted that beneath the continental crust lies a keel of lithospheric mantle, which extends 50–200 kilometres downward to a transition zone into the asthenosphere. The chemical and physical properties of this reservoir are best known through studies of the basalts and xenoliths that provide samples of the subcrustal mantle. Although sharing many characteristics with oceanic island basalts, some continental basalts become increasingly distinct isotopically as crustal age increases, strongly supporting a permanent association between crust and mantle. Consequently, the distinctive trace element and isotope composition of the lithospheric mantle is able to give important clues to its origin and evolution.

The mantle under newly‐created crust is typified by a radiogenic isotope variability that emphasizes the materials from which the continental lithosphere is assembled. Old lithospheric mantle, on the other hand, exhibits more evolved isotopic patterns that attest to the existence of long‐lived, chemically complex systems. A comparison of the Pb, Sr and Nd isotopes in alkalic to sub‐alkalic basalt derived from Phanerozoic (Patagonia) and Middle Archaean to Early Proterozoic (eastern China) subcrustal mantle is useful for identifying ‘end‐member’ components of the lithosphere. One component, having an isotopic composition close to PREMA, either continues to evolve virtually unchanged after incorporation into the lithosphere or is, itself, a relatively new addition even to old lithosphere. Another component, beginning with the isotopic composition of BSE, undergoes significant reduction in U/Pb and Sm/Nd (but not Rb/Sr) upon incorporation into the lithosphere and, with time, shows an increasingly retarded evolution of 206Pb/204Pb and negative εNd‐values approaching the isotopic composition of EMI.

Five models are discussed that relate the isotopic composition of the continental lithospheric mantle to that of other parts of the terrestrial system, which may be involved in its origin and evolution. The potential locations of the contributing components and the mechanisms and timing of their assembly into lithosphere are considered. Current knowledge, however, does not allow us to distinguish unequivocally among the various scenarios for the creation and evolution of this reservoir.

Publication Year 1991
Title A comparison of Sr-Nd-Pb isotopes in young and old continental lithospheric mantle: Patagonia and eastern China
DOI 10.1080/08120099108727990
Authors R. E. Zartman, K. Futa, Z. C. Peng
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Australian Journal of Earth Sciences
Index ID 70014946
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse