Lower Carboniferous lavas from the Midland Valley and adjacent regions of Scotland are mildly alkaline and intraplate in nature. The sequence is dominated by basalt and hawaiite, although mugearite, benmoreite, trachyte and rhyolite are also present. Basic volcanic rocks display the LIL element and LREE enrichment typical of intraplate alkali basalt terrains. Low initial87Sr/86Sr (0.7029–0.7046), high εNd (−0.4 to +5.6) and moderately radiogenic206Pb/204Pb (17.77–18.89) ratios are also comparable with alkali basalts from other continental rifts and oceanic islands.\ud \ud When the Carboniferous lavas are compared with subduction-related lavas of Old Red Sandstone age, erupted in and around the Midland Valley ca. 50 Ma earlier (at 410 Ma) remarkable similarities are apparent. Significant overlap occurs in Nd and Pb isotopic compositions. Sr isotopic compositions are, however, more radiogenic in the older subduction-related lavas. This, combined with high K and Rb concentrations in ORS lavas may be explained by the incorporation of a sediment component derived from the subducted slab, which by Lower Carboniferous times had been lost from the mantle source region by convection. A pronounced negative Nb anomaly in the ORS subduction-related lavas may be explained by the retention of a Nb-bearing phase in the mantle during hydrous melting of the mantle wedge above the subduction zone.\ud \ud Allowing for the effects of the added component from the subducted slab, there appears to be no necessity to invoke separate mantle source regions for the two suites of lavas: both may have been derived from chemically similar portions of mantle. If volcanic arc lavas are derived from the mantle wedge, the implication is that such a source lies at relatively shallow depth within the upper mantle: the same may therefore apply to the Carboniferous continental rift basalts. This evidence, combined with the fact that there is no evident hot-spot trail across the Midland Valley despite a long period of within-plate volcanism and rapid plate movements during the Carboniferous, suggests that the alkali basalt magmatism is not the product of a deep-seated mantle plume. Rather, the volcanism appears to owe more to passive rifting and to diapiric upwelling from a source region within the uppermost mantle.\ud \u
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