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Multiple mantle sources of continental magmatism: insights from “high-Ti” picrites of Karoo and other large igneous provinces


Kamenetsky, VS and Maas, R and Kamenetsky, MB and Yaxley, GM and Ehrig, K and Zellmer, GF and Bindeman, IN and Sobolev, AV and Kuzmin, DV and Ivanov, AV and Woodhead, J and Schilling, J-G, Multiple mantle sources of continental magmatism: insights from 'high-Ti' picrites of Karoo and other large igneous provinces, Chemical Geology, 455 pp. 22-31. ISSN 0009-2541 (2017) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

© 2016 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.chemgeo.2016.08.034


Magmas forming large igneous provinces (LIP) on continents are generated by extensive melting in the deep crust and underlying mantle and associated with break-up of ancient supercontinents, followed by formation of a new basaltic crust in the mid-oceanic rifts. A lack of the unifying model in understanding the sources of LIP magmatism is justified by lithological and geochemical complexity of erupted magmas on local (e.g. a cross-section) and regional (a single and different LIP) scales. Moreover, the majority of LIP rocks do not fit general criteria for recognizing primary/primitive melts (i.e. < 8 wt% MgO and absence of high-Fo olivine phenocrysts).

This study presents the mineralogical (olivine, Cr-spinel, orthopyroxene), geochemical (trace elements and Sr-Nd-Hf-Pb isotopes) and olivine-hosted melt inclusion compositional characteristics of a single primitive (16 wt% MgO), high-Ti (2.5 wt% TiO2) picrite with high-Mg olivine (up to 91 mol% Fo) from the Letaba Formation in the ~ 180 Ma Karoo LIP (south Africa). The olivine compositions (unusually high δ18O (6.17‰), high NiO (0.36–0.56 wt%) and low MnO and CaO (0.12–0.20 and 0.12–0.22 wt%, respectively)) are used to argue for a non-peridotitic mantle source. This is supported by the enrichment of the rock and melts in most incompatible trace elements and depletion in heavy rare earth elements (e.g. high Gd/Yb) that reflects residual garnet in the source of melting. The radiogenic isotopes resemble those of the model enriched mantle (EM-1) and further argue for a long-term enrichment of the source in incompatible trace elements.

The enriched high-Ti compositions, strongly fractionated incompatible trace elements, presence of primitive olivine and high-Cr spinel in the Letaba picrites are closely matched by olivine-phyric rocks from the ~ 260 Ma Emeishan (Yongsheng area, SW China) and ~ 250 Ma Siberian (Maimecha-Kotuy region, N Siberia) LIPs. However, many other compositional parameters (e.g. trace element and δ18O compositions of olivine phenocrysts, Fe2 +/Fe3 + in Cr-spinel, Sr-Nd-Hf isotope ratios) only partially overlap or even diverge. We thus imply that parental melts of enriched picritic rocks with forsteritic olivine from three major continental igneous provinces – Karoo, Emeishan and Siberia cannot be assigned to a common mantle source and similar melting conditions.

The Karoo picrites also exhibit some mineralogical and geochemical similarities with rocks and glasses in the south Atlantic Ridge and adjacent fracture zones. The geodynamic reconstructions of the continental plate motions since break-up of the Gondwanaland in the Jurassic support the current position of the source of the Karoo magmatism in the southernmost Atlantic. Co-occurrence of modern and recent anomalous rocks with normal mid-ocean ridge basalts in this region can be related to blocks/rafts of the ancient lithosphere, stranded in the ambient upper mantle and occasionally sampled by rifting-related decompressional melting.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:large igneous provinces, magmatism, Karoo, picrites, olivine, Cr-spinel, melt inclusions
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Geology
Research Field:Igneous and metamorphic petrology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences
UTAS Author:Kamenetsky, VS (Professor Vadim Kamenetsky)
UTAS Author:Kamenetsky, MB (Dr Maya Kamenetsky)
ID Code:118134
Year Published:2017
Web of Science® Times Cited:36
Deposited By:CODES ARC
Deposited On:2017-07-05
Last Modified:2018-07-30

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