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Constraints on melting processes and plume-ridge interaction from comprehensive study of the FAMOUS and North Famous segments, Mid-Atlantic Ridge

By Allison Gale, Muriel Laubier, Stephane Laurent Escrig and Charles H. Langmuir


Detailed major element, trace element and isotopic study of the FAMOUS and North Famous segments within the geochemical gradient south of the Azores platform provides new constraints on controls on chemical variations at the segment scale and the origin of plume geochemical gradients. A comprehensive investigation of 110 samples along the entire length of the FAMOUS segment, coupled with a recent extensive melt inclusion study by Laubier et al. (2012), shows large trace element diversity within a single segment and substantial isotopic variability that largely correlates with trace element variations. Substantial variations are also present along the short (18 km) North Famous segment despite the presence of an axial volcanic ridge. These results confirm multiple supply of magmas along the length of these segments, the lack of a centrally supplied magma chamber, and the ability of melting processes to deliver highly diverse melts over short distances and times. With the exception of one group of high Al2O3, low SiO2 magmas (HiAl–LoSi) largely recovered in the original small FAMOUS area, the data can be simply explained by a two-component mixing model coupled with melting variations. The HiAl–LoSi magmas reflect assimilation and mixing in the crust, an interpretation supported by the diverse melt inclusions in these lavas.Since the mantle heterogeneity reflects two-component mixing, the end members can be constrained. Surprisingly, source mixing between the Azores plume and depleted mantle cannot produce the observations. This is evident regionally from the fact that nearly all basalts have highly incompatible trace element ratios (e.g., Th/La, Nb/La) as high or higher than the most plume-influenced MORB near the Azores hotspot, despite being over 300 km farther south and much less enriched isotopically. To account for the elevated highly incompatible trace element ratios, a metasomatic component formed by adding deep, low-degree melts of Azores plume material to a depleted mantle is required. The regional gradient south of the Azores then requires different processes along its length. Close to the Azores, plume material mixes with depleted mantle. The pure plume influence is spatially restricted, and enrichment farther to the south is caused by shallow mantle metasomatized by low-degree melts from deep plume flow. North Famous lavas are spatially closer to the Azores and yet are more depleted in trace elements and isotopes than FAMOUS lavas, suggesting delivery of the enriched component to individual segments is influenced by additional factors such as segment size and offset. The extent to which these processes operate in other regions of plume–ridge interaction remains to be investigated.Earth and Planetary Science

Topics: FAMOUS; mid-ocean ridge basalt; trace element geochemistry; plume–ridge interaction
Publisher: 'Elsevier BV'
Year: 2013
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.epsl.2013.01.022
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