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Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by mid-ocean ridge basalts, which form along a network of divergent plate margins. Basalts along these margins display a chemical diversity, which is consequent to a complex interplay of partial mantle melting in the upper mantle and magmatic differentiation processes in lower crustal levels. Igneous differentiation (crystal fractionation, partial melting) and source heterogeneity, in general, are key drivers creating variable chemistry in mid-ocean ridge basalts. This variability is reflected in iron isotope systematics (expressed as δ57Fe), showing a total range of 0.2 ‰ from δ57Fe = + 0.05 to + 0.25 ‰. Respective contributions of source heterogeneity and magma differentiation leading to this diversity, however, remain elusive. This study investigates the iron isotope systematics in basalts from the ultraslow spreading Gakkel Ridge in the Arctic Ocean and compares them to existing data from the fast spreading East Pacific Rise ridge. Results indicate that Gakkel lavas are driven to heavier iron isotope compositions through partial melting processes, whereas effects of igneous differentiation are minor. This is in stark contrast to fast spreading ridges showing reversed effects of near negligible partial melting effects followed by large isotope fractionation along the liquid line of descent. Gakkel lavas further reveal mantle heterogeneity that is superimposed on the igneous differentiation effects, showing that upper mantle Fe isotope heterogeneity can be transmitted into erupting basalts in the absence of homogenisation processes in sub-oceanic magma chambers.
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