Basalts From the Chukchi Borderland: 40Ar/39Ar Ages and Geochemistry of Submarine Intraplate Lavas Dredged From the Western Arctic Ocean

Samuel B. Mukasa, Alexandre Andronikov, Kelley Brumley, Larry A. Mayer, Andrew Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Submarine volcanism in the western Arctic Ocean, known as Amerasia Basin, is attributed to a mantle plume based on geophysics and meager geochemical evidence. Basaltic samples dredged from Chukchi Borderland within the basin have produced minimum 40Ar/39Ar ages for eruption at circa 118–112, circa 105–100, and circa 90–70 Ma, which we use to constrain tectonic models for basin opening. Major oxide and trace element concentrations and Sr, Nd, and Hf isotopic ratios of the lavas show that the circa 118–112 Ma samples from Northwind Ridge are tholeiites (low-Ti tholeiite I) with low degrees of rare-earth element (REE) fractionation, high overall heavy rare-earth element (HREE), and Mg# (Mg-number), which suggests magma derivation from a garnet-free source followed by minor crystal fractionation. Strontium, Nd, and Hf isotope systematics for these lavas and ratios of highly incompatible trace elements point toward a lithospheric source. Eruptions at circa 105–100 and circa 90–70 Ma, both at Healy Spur, produced two types of lavas: low-Ti tholeiite II—which are generally older than high-Ti tholeiite—both common in continental flood basalt (CFB) provinces and both with trace element abundance patterns typifying a garnet-free source and significant crystal fractionation for the high-Ti tholeiite. The isotope characteristics for both groups are common features of asthenospheric sources. Composition-time relationships for the lavas suggest inception of melting in the subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM)—probably due to introduction of a heat source by a plume—followed later (at ca. 105–100 and ca. 90–70 Ma) by asthenospheric melting possibly triggered by plume rise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2019JB017604
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are indebted to the USCGC Icebreaker HEALY crew and Captain F. Sommer who made the fieldwork possible and also to the whole science team of the HLY0805 mission. C. Hall is thanked for 40Ar/39Ar age determinations and C. Knaak and T. Vogel for assistance with the XRF and ICP-MS analyses. This manuscript benefited from discussions with L. A. Lawver, H. R. Jackson, E. L. Miller, C. M. Hall, D. R. Hutchinson, D. C. Mosher, and J. Childs. S. -H. Choi is thanked for critical reading of an earlier version of the manuscript. Invaluable reviews were provided by the Journal Editor Stephen Parman, Associate Editor John Lassiter, external reviewers Fred Jourdan and Renaud Merle, and an anonymous reviewer, to whom we are grateful. This study was supported by NSF Grant NSF OPP-1025513 to S. B. Mukasa and by NOAA Grants NA10NOS4000074 and NA15NOS4000200.


  • Amerasia Basin
  • Arctic Ocean
  • Chukchi borderland
  • geochronology
  • isotope geochemistry
  • submarine volcanism

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