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Mineralogy and composition of the oceanic mantle

November 28, 2011

The mineralogy of the oceanic basalt source region is examined by testing whether a peridotite mineralogy can yield observed whole-rock and olivine compositions from (1) the Hawaiian Islands, our type example of a mantle plume, and (2) the Siqueiros Transform, which provides primitive samples of normal mid-ocean ridge basalt. New olivine compositional data from phase 2 of the Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project (HSDP2) show that higher Ni-in-olivine at the Hawaiian Islands is due to higher temperatures (T) of melt generation and processing (by c. 300°C) related to the Hawaiian mantle plume. DNi is low at high T, so parental Hawaiian basalts are enriched in NiO. When Hawaiian (picritic) parental magmas are transported to shallow depths, olivine precipitation occurs at lower temperatures, where DNi is high, leading to high Ni-in-olivine. Similarly, variations in Mn and Fe/Mn ratios in olivines are explained by contrasts in the temperatures of magma processing. Using the most mafic rocks to delimit Siqueiros and Hawaiian Co and Ni contents in parental magmas and mantle source compositions also shows that both suites can be derived from natural peridotites, but are inconsistent with partial melting of natural pyroxenites. Whole-rock compositions at Hawaii and Siqueiros are also matched by partial melting experiments conducted on peridotite bulk compositions. Hawaiian whole-rocks have elevated FeO contents compared with Siqueiros, which can be explained if Hawaiian parental magmas are generated from peridotite at 4–5 GPa, in contrast to pressures of slightly greater than 1 GPa for melt generation at Siqueiros; these pressures are consistent with olivine thermometry, as described in an earlier paper. SiO2-enriched Koolau compositions are reproduced if high-Fe Hawaiian parental magmas re-equilibrate at 1–1·5 GPa. Peridotite partial melts from experimental studies also reproduce the CaO and Al2O3 contents of Hawaiian (and Siqueiros) whole-rocks. Hawaiian magmas have TiO2 contents, however, that are enriched compared with melts from natural peridotites and magmas derived from the Siqueiros depleted mantle, and consequently may require an enriched source. TiO2 is not the only element that is enriched relative to melts of natural peridotites. Moderately incompatible elements, such as Ti, Zr, Hf, Y, and Eu, and compatible elements, such as Yb and Lu, are all enriched at the Hawaiian Islands. Such enrichments can be explained by adding 5–10% mid-ocean ridge basalt (crust) to depleted mantle; when the major element composition of such a mixture is recast into mineral components, the result is a fertile peridotite mineralogy.