Reconciling the shadow of a subduction signature with rift geochemistry and tectonic environment in Eastern Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica

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Lithos, ISSN: 0024-4937, Vol: 260, Page: 134-153

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Wesley E. LeMasurier; Sung Hi Choi; Stanley R. Hart; Sam Mukasa; Nick Rogers
Elsevier BV
Earth and Planetary Sciences
article description
Basalt-trachyte volcanoes in the Marie Byrd Land (MBL) Cenozoic province lie along the Amundsen Sea coast on the north flank of the West Antarctic rift. Basalts here are characterized by OIB-like geochemistry, restricted ranges of 87 Sr/ 86 Sr (0.702535–0.703284) and 143 Nd/ 144 Nd (0.512839–0.513008) and a wide range of 206 Pb/ 204 Pb (19.357–20.934). Basalts at three MBL volcanoes display two anomalies compared with the above and with all other basalts in West Antarctica. They include 143 Nd/ 144 Nd (0.512778–0.512789) values at Mt. Takahe and Mt. Siple that are 2σ lower than other West Antarctic basalts, and Ba/Nb, Ba/La, and Ba/Th values at Mt. Murphy and Mt. Takahe that are 3–8 times higher than normal OIB. Isotope and trace element data do not support crustal and lithospheric mantle contamination, or the presence of residual mantle amphibole or phlogopite as explanations of these anomalies. The apparent coincidence of these anomalies with the site of a pre-Cenozoic convergence zone along the Gondwanaland margin suggests a subduction influence. Major episodes of subduction and granitic plutonism took place in MBL during the Devonian, Permian, and Late Cretaceous. Relicts in the source region, of components from these subducted slabs, provide a credible explanation for the uncoupling of Ba from other large ion lithophile elements (LILE), for its erratic distribution, and for the anomalously low 143 Nd/ 144 Nd at Mt. Takahe. The last episode of subduction ended ~ 85 Ma, and was followed by continental break-up, rifting and lithospheric attenuation that produced the West Antarctic rift as we know it today. Thus, the enigmatic geochemical signatures in these three volcanoes seem to have been preserved roughly 61–85 m.y. after subduction ended. New calculations of source melting depth and a new determination of lithospheric thickness suggest that the source of the anomalies resides in a fossil mélange diapir that rose from the Cretaceous subducting slab, became attached to the base of the lithosphere at 80–100 km depth, and remained there during the subsequent plate motion and source remobilization history of this region.