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Magma genesis in the northern Lau Basin, S.W. Pacific

By A. Sarah Acland


The northern Lau Basin contains the northeastern-most part of the Tonga arc-basin system. Volcanic rocks associated with the recent-arc have been sampled from Tafahi and Niuatoputapu, and young basalts «1.5Ma) have been dredged from Northern Lau Spreading Centre (NLSC), the northeastern limb of the King's Triple Junction. The 1982 'Kallisto' cruise dredged two ophiolite sections, one containing boninitic, and the other tholeiitic, lavas, from the inner wall of the northern Tonga trench. The magma genesis of these lava suites is related to the structural and geochemical controls imposed during the tectonic evolution of the region. The geochemical controls result from processes related to the mantle dynamics in the northern Lau Basin, and to along-trench variations and the degree of influence of the subduction component. The lavas associated with the Central Lau Spreading Centre are derived from the Lau Basin mantle reservoir, which has Indian MORB mantle (!MM) isotopic characteristics. This reservoir has been present under the region since early-arc magmatism, as indicated by the trace elements and !MM isotopic signatures of the tholeiitic lavas from the eastern ophiolite section, and Eocene lavas from 'Eua. A reservoir with the geochemical characteristics of residual Samoan plume mantle underlies the northern Lau Basin. This mantle has been influxing through the rip in the Pacific plate, at the northern termination of the Tonga trench, since the Lau Basin began to open « 6Ma), as a result of processes relating to subduction roll-back. The north Tongan boninites, the lavas from Tafahi and Niuatoputapu have residual plume mantle sources. However, prior to the opening of the Lau Basin, the proto-Tonga trench formed a barrier to this influx, and therefore, the influence of the plume cannot be detected in lavas associated with the early-arc, such as the tholeiites from one of the ophiolite sections and the Eocene lavas from 'Bua. The variations in the trace element and Pb isotopic compositions of the lavas from the Northern Lau Spreading Centre indicate that mixing has occurred between Lau Basin and residual plume mantle end-members in the central northern Lau Basin. The residual plume mantle sources of the north Tongan boninites and the lavas from Tafahi, Niuatoputapu and the Tofua arc have been enriched by a subduction component, the characteristics of which are enrichment in Lll..E, Ph ± LREE. In the south, the subduction component is made up of fluids derived from subducted Pacific altered oceanic crust and pelagic sediments. However, in the north, it is comprised predominantly of fluids derived from Pacific volcanogenic sediments, with a contribution from altered oceanic crust and possibly subducted plume crust

Year: 1996
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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