Enriched back-arc basin basalts from the northern Mariana Trough: implications for the magmatic evolution of back-arc basins

Robert J. Stern, Ping Nan Lin, Julie D. Morris, Michael C. Jackson, Patricia Fryer, Sherman H. Bloomer, Emi Ito

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The composition of basalts erupted at the earliest stages in the evolution of a back-arc basin permit unique insights into the composition and structure of the sub-arc mantle. We report major and trace element chemical data and O-, Sr-, Nd-, and Pb- isotopic analyses for basalts recovered from four dredge hauls and one ALVIN dive in the northern Mariana Trough near 22°N. The petrography and major element chemistry of these basalts (MTB-22) are similar to tholeiites from the widest part of the Trough, near 18°N (MTB-18), except that MTB-22 have slightly more K2O and slightly less TiO2. The trace element data exhibit a very strong arc signature in MTB-22, including elevated K, Rb, Sr, Ba, and LREE contents; relatively low K Ba and high Ba La and Sr Nd. The Sr- and Nd- isotopic data plot in a field displaced from that of MTB-18 towards Mariana arc lavas, and the Pb-isotopic composition of MTB-22 is indistinguishable from Mariana arc lavas and much more homogeneous than MTB-18. Mixing of 50-90% Mariana arc component with a MORB component is hypothesized. We cannot determine whether this resulted from physical mixing of arc mantle and MORB mantle, or whether the arc component is introduced by metasomatism of MORB-like mantle by fluids released from the subducted lithosphere. The strong arc signature in back-arc melts from the Mariana Trough at 22°N, where the back-arc basin is narrow, supports general models for back-arc basin evolution whereby early back-arc basin basalts have a strong arc component which diminishes in importance relative to MORB as the back-arc basin widens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-225
Number of pages16
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - Oct 1990

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The samples analyzed here were collected in the course of expeditions funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation. Analytical work was supported under NSF grants OCE-8812442 to Stern, OCE-8410596 to Fryer, and OCE-8515887 to Ito. We are grateful to Terry Plank for an incisive and constructive review. This is UTD Programs in Geosciences Contribution No. 654.


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