The composition of the incipient partial melt of garnet peridotite at 3GPa and the origin of OIB

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We determined experimentally the composition of an incipient partial melt of a garnet lherzolite similar to KLB-1 peridotite at 3GPa using modified iterative sandwich experiments (MISE). The MISE method enables microbeam analyses of quenched liquids that are in equilibrium at the onset of melting (nominally, 0% melt fraction) with a specified peridotite bulk composition. The equilibrium incipient partial melt is a TiO2-enriched (2.5±0.2wt.%) alkali olivine basalt with 44.8±0.2wt.% SiO2 and 15.8±0.1wt.% MgO. Therefore, it has some compositional characteristics similar to a plausible parent to many alkalic oceanic island basalts. But in detail, several key components of this melt are different from parental liquids of typical primitive alkalic OIB, including lower FeO (9.7±0.1wt.%) and higher Al2O3 (12.7±0.2wt.%). It is also distinct from basalts derived from the EM and HIMU mantle end-members. We conclude that the vast majority of alkalic OIB cannot originate from volatile-poor partial melting of garnet peridotite at the base of the oceanic lithosphere unless there are contributions from non-peridotitic lithologies and/or enrichment in volatiles, iron, or other metasomatic components, and that such lithologic heterogeneities are intrinsic features of the HIMU and EM mantle reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-390
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Ellery Frahm for his assistance and his superior efforts maintaining an excellent electron microprobe facility at the University of Minnesota. This paper benefited from constructive reviews from Mike Walter and Claude Herzberg. This work was supported by NSF grants EAR0609967 and EAR1019744 to M.M.H.


  • Experimental petrology
  • Garnet peridotite
  • Ocean island basalt
  • Partial melting

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