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March 8, 2010

U-series Isotope Data on Lau Basin Glasses: the Role of Subduction-related Fluids during Melt Generation in Back-arc Basins

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New thermal ionization mass spectrometry U-series disequilibrium data are presented for 24 basaltic to dacitic glasses from active spreading centres in the back-arc Lau Basin (SW Pacific), together with additional inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry trace element analyses and Sr–Nd–Pb isotope data. Valu Fa Ridge samples, adjacent to the arc front, have high U/Th and (230Th/238U) <1, implying a recent (<<350 ka) addition of a U-rich slab-derived fluid. The Valu Fa data can be combined with existing 230Th–238U data for the Central Tonga arc to infer a fluid addition event at 50 ka. The similar sources and time scales for fluid transfer beneath the Valu Fa Ridge and beneath the arc itself suggest that the Valu Fa Ridge is propagating into the arc-front region. Central Lau Basin samples, further behind the arc, have lower U/Th and (230Th/238U) 1, similar to typical mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB). Within the Central Lau Basin, a water-rich subduction component is seen only in samples closest to the arc, and this fluid does not have the high-U/Th composition of the fluid at Valu Fa. Melt generation in the Central Lau Basin appears to be dominated by normal ridge-type processes, but the relatively low (230Th/238U) for these shallow ridges compared with global MORB could be a consequence of increased melt productivity as a result of the elevated water contents. The transition from 238U to 230Th excesses within the back-arc basin is not a smooth function of decreasing addition of a U-rich fluid moving away from the arc front, but also reflects the complex dynamics between two major mantle domains within the mantle wedge (‘Pacific’ beneath Valu Fa Ridge, ‘Indian’ beneath the Central Lau Basin).

KEY WORDS: back-arc basins; U-series disequilibrium; fluids; subduction zones; melting

DAVID W. PEATE1,*, THOMAS F. KOKFELT1,, CHRIS J. HAWKESWORTH1,, PETER W. VAN CALSTEREN1, JANET M. HERGT2 and JULIAN A. PEARCE3
1DEPARTMENT OF EARTH SCIENCES, THE OPEN UNIVERSITY, WALTON HALL, MILTON KEYNES MK7 6AA, UK
2SCHOOL OF EARTH SCIENCES, THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE, MELBOURNE, VIC. 3010, AUSTRALIA
3DEPARTMENT OF EARTH SCIENCES, CARDIFF UNIVERSITY, MAIN COLLEGE, PARK PLACE, P.O. BOX 914, CARDIFF CF1 3YE, UK

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