Petrogenesis and origins of mid-cretaceous continental intraplate volcanism in Marlborough, New Zealand: Implications for the long-lived HIMU magmatic mega-province of the SW Pacific

Alex J. McCoy-West, Joel A. Baker, Kevin Faure, Richard Wysoczanski

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68 Citations (Scopus)


Continental intraplate basalts with a HIMU-like mantle signature in the SW Pacific (e.g. New Zealand, Australia and Antarctica) have been erupted over an area of ∼25 million km2 sporadically over the last c. 100 Myr. This long-lived HIMU signature has recently been ascribed to both melting in the subcontinental lithospheric mantle and the asthenospheric mantle. The Lookout Volcanics represent the oldest samples of this HIMU magmatic mega-province and are remnants of extensive mid-Cretaceous (98 Ma) intraplate volcanism preserved in South Island, New Zealand, which occurred prior to the rifting of Zealandia from Gondwana. We have carried out a detailed petrographic, chemical and isotopic study of the Lookout Volcanics based on sampling of a 700 m composite stratigraphic section that comprises predominantly mafic alkaline rocks. Initial Sr-Nd-Hf-Pb isotopic variations (87Sr/86Sr = 0·7030-0·7038; 143Nd/144Nd = 0·51272-0·51264; 176Hf/177Hf = 0·28283-0·28278; 206Pb/204Pb = 20·3-18·8) are explained by mixing between melts of a HIMU-like mantle source and up to 22% of Early Cretaceous upper crust. Oxygen isotope data for six lava flows yielded δ18Oolivine = 4·7-5·0‰, δ18Ocpx cores = 4·8-5·4‰ and δ18Ocpx rims = 3·9-5·5‰. Average olivine and clinopyroxene core values are in oxygen isotopic equilibrium and comparable with data for phenocrysts from HIMU ocean island basalts. Oxygen isotopic disequilibrium between clinopyroxene cores and rims records phenocryst growth in a shallow magma chamber interacting with an active meteoric water system. The scavenging of such phenocrysts suggests that volcanic phenocrysts with low δ18O cannot always be used as a mantle fingerprint of recycled crustal components with low δ18O. Clinopyroxene and plagioclase phenocrysts from the most evolved sample have elevated δ18O and 87Sr/86Sr consistent with crustal contamination. Variations in incompatible trace element ratios (e.g. La/YbN = 12·5-20·2; Dy/YbN = 1·90-2·20) are consistent with small degrees (c. 2-4%) of partial melting of an amphibole-bearing garnet pyroxenite or peridotite mantle source. Moreover, the elevated NiO contents of olivine phenocrysts from the Lookout Volcanics may also be consistent with melt generation from a pyroxenitic mantle source. However, given the documented effect of increasing pressure causing a decrease in the melt-olivine partition coefficient for Ni, the elevated Ni in the olivine phenocrysts may simply reflect high Ni contents in the primary magmas of the Lookout Volcanics as a result of deep, garnet-facies, mantle melting. The pervasive HIMU mantle source throughout Zealandia was most probably produced along the East Gondwana subduction margin by cooling of subduction-modified upper mantle and its incorporation into the subcontinental lithospheric mantle that accompanied the crustal formation of Zealandia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberegq046
Pages (from-to)2003-2045
Number of pages43
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 28 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • HIMU
  • Intraplate volcanism
  • Lithospheric melts
  • Peridotite and pyroxenite melting
  • Sr-Nd-Hf-Pb-O isotope geochemistry
  • Zealandia

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