Active volcanic hotspots can tap into domains in Earth’s deep interior that were formed more than two billion years ago1,2. High-precision data on variability in tungsten isotopes have shown that some of these domains resulted from differentiation events that occurred within the first fifty million years of Earth history3,4. However, it has not proved easy to resolve analogous variability in neodymium isotope compositions that would track regions of Earth’s interior whose composition was established by events occurring within roughly the first five hundred million years of Earth history5,6. Here we report 142Nd/144Nd ratios for Réunion Island igneous rocks, some of which are resolvably either higher or lower than the ratios in modern upper-mantle domains. We also find that Réunion 142Nd/144Nd ratios correlate with helium-isotope ratios (3He/4He), suggesting parallel behaviour of these isotopic systems during very early silicate differentiation, perhaps as early as 4.39 billion years ago. The range of 142Nd/144Nd ratios in Réunion basalts is inconsistent with a single-stage differentiation process, and instead requires mixing of a conjugate melt and residue formed in at least one melting event during the Hadean eon, 4.56 billion to 4 billion years ago. Efficient post-Hadean mixing nearly erased the ancient, anomalous 142Nd/144Nd signatures, and produced the relatively homogeneous 143Nd/144Nd composition that is characteristic of Réunion basalts. Our results show that Réunion magmas tap into a particularly ancient, primitive source compared with other volcanic hotspots7,8,9,10, offering insight into the formation and preservation of ancient heterogeneities in Earth’s interior.
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B.J.P. is grateful for conversations with fellow postdocs A. Mundl and J. Reimink. Technical assistance with Nd isotope measurements was provided by T. Mock, and data-reduction routines were modified from an original version by M. Garçon. Funding for fieldwork for this study was provided by the National Geographic Society (NGS 8330-07), the Geological Society of America (GSA 10539-14), and a personal donation from R. Rex. Support for laboratory work was provided by the Carnegie Institution for Science.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
Reviewer Information Nature thanks B. Bourdon and B. Hanan for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
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Extended data figures and tables
a, Required differentiation ages (y axis) for given bulk-Earth μ142Nd values (x axis) and 147Sm/144Nd ratios (coloured lines) to best match Réunion average μ142Nd and ε143Nd. Given external precisions as a proportion of data range, minimum bulk-Earth μ142Nd values permitted by the Réunion data are indicated for various bulk Earth 147Sm/144Nd ratios (see text for details). b, Misfit of each scenario to Réunion data. Misfits are calculated as a moving average with a 1 p.p.m. μ142Nd window; coarseness among low misfits is a consequence of model resolution. Bulk Earth μ142Nd values are preserved vertically across the panels. For example, assuming a bulk Earth with Sm/Nd = 0.19 and μ142Nd = −5, the differentiation age that produces the best fit to Réunion μ142Nd and ε143Nd is around 4,430 million years, and the total misfit to Réunion data is less than 1%, meaning that this scenario is permitted within the precision of the data. Ma, million years.
Extended Data Figure 2 Hypothesis testing, showing that the spread of data among Réunion igneous rocks is greater than would be expected from analytical precision alone.
Black dots show arithmetic means and s.e.m. for randomly generated μ142Nd values, with a sample mean equal to the Réunion μ142Nd mean and standard deviation equal to external precision. Blue dots show arithmetic means and s.e.m. for randomly selected Réunion sample data with replacement after selection (that is, a given sample can be chosen one or more times). Each point (black or blue) represents a sample size of n = 22, identical to the number of samples analysed in this study. The two simulated datasets (black and blue dots) do not strongly overlap, implying that the total variation in Réunion μ142Nd is greater than would be expected from external precision alone. See text for further details and interpretation; an example simulation is given in the Source Data. Source data
Extended Data Figure 3 Isotope evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern uppermost lower mantle.
At this depth, pressures are less than 34–36 GPa (ref. 27); ferropericlase (Fp) is the liquidus phase and Ca-perovskite (Ca-Pv) melts out before bridgmanite (Mg-perovskite, Mg-Pv). Results from a single model run are shown vertically in each column, with melt-out points set to 60% (Ca-Pv) and 80% (Mg-Pv) of melting (left panels), and to 80% (Ca-Pv) and 95% (Mg-Pv) of melting (right panels). a, b, Mantle and melt modes. c, d, Changes in Sm/Nd and Lu/Hf through accumulated fractional melting. e, f, Best-fit differentiation ages and melting degrees for given bulk-Earth μ142Nd and Sm/Nd values, given as moving averages around a 1 p.p.m. window. Bridgmanite and Ca-perovskite partition coefficients are from ref. 21; partitioning of Hf and rare earth elements in ferropericlase is assumed to be nil. Source data
Extended Data Figure 4 Isotope evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern uppermost lower mantle.
Continuing on from Extended Data Fig. 3, results from a single model run are shown vertically in each column, with melt-out points set to 60% and 80% of melting (left panels), and to 80% and 95% of melting (right panels). a, b, Misfit to data averages for scenarios illustrated in Extended Data Fig. 3e, f. c, d, Selected model fit to Réunion μ142Nd–ε143Nd data. e, f, Same model as in panels c, d, with fit to Réunion ε143Nd–ε176Hf (ref. 8) data. Best-fit models return slightly earlier differentiation ages compared with deeper-mantle models (Extended Data Figs 3, 5 and 7) and require a lower degree of differentiation than does melting occurring at lowest mantle pressures (Extended Data Figs 7, 8). Differentiation at these relatively low pressures produces the steepest negative correlations between ε176Hf and ε143Nd compared with differentiation at higher pressures. Correlations between μ142Nd and ε143Nd appear to be shallow at the scales presented in panels c and d; however, they reflect the small x-axis scale that best represents the distribution of Réunion data. Réunion Nd-isotope data in panels c and d can be found in Supplementary Table 1 or in Source Data. Source data
Extended Data Figure 5 Isotope-evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern mid-lower mantle.
At these pressures (36–60 GPa; ref. 26), bridgmanite is the liquidus phase and Ca-perovskite melts out before ferropericlase. Left panels: 60% (Ca-Pv) and 85% (Fp) melt-out points; right panels: 80% (Ca-Pv) and 95% (Fp) melt-out points. a, b, Mantle and melt modes. c, d, Changes in Sm/Nd and Lu/Hf through accumulated fractional melting. e, f, Best-fit differentiation ages and melting degrees for given bulk-Earth μ142Nd and Sm/Nd values, given as moving averages around a 1 p.p.m. window. A relatively constant melting degree (71–77%) is predicted over a range of bulk Earth μ142Nd values and differentiation ages when Ca-perovskite and ferropericlase are consumed late during melting (panel f), making these model conditions the most adaptable to possible conditions of Hadean mantle domain formation. Source data
Extended Data Figure 6 Isotope-evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern mid-lower mantle.
Continuing on from Extended Data Fig. 5, left panels: 60% and 85% melt-out points; right panels: 80% and 95% melt-out points. a, b, Misfit to data averages for scenarios illustrated in Extended Data Fig. 5e, f. c, d, Selected model fit to Réunion μ142Nd–ε143Nd data. e, f, Same model as in panels c, d, with fit to ε143Nd–ε176Hf (ref. 8) data. Somewhat later preferred differentiation times (around 4.40 Gyr ago) produce slightly shallower ε176Hf–ε143Nd correlations compared with those observed in Extended Data Figs 3 and 4, and required contributions from the EER (c, d) are less than for other pressure conditions (Extended Data Figs 3, 4 and Extended Data Figs 7, 8) Correlations between μ142Nd and ε143Nd appear shallow at the scales presented in panels c and d; however, they reflect the small x-axis scale that best represents the distribution of Réunion data. Réunion Nd isotope data in panels c and d can be found in Supplementary Table 1 and in the Source Data. Source data
Extended Data Figure 7 Isotope-evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern lowest mantle.
At these pressures (greater than 60 GPa; ref. 26), bridgmanite is the liquidus phase and ferropericlase melts out before Ca-perovskite. Left panels: 60% and 85% melt-out points; right panels: 80% and 95% melt-out points. a, b, Mantle and melt modes. c, d, Changes in Sm/Nd and Lu/Hf through accumulated fractional melting. e, f, Best-fit differentiation ages and melting degrees for given bulk-Earth μ142Nd and Sm/Nd values, given as moving averages around a 1 p.p.m. window. In this highest pressure range, the model demands the highest degree of mantle melting (greater than 90% for late consumption of ferropericlase and Ca-perovskite), but returns the shallowest correlations between ε143Nd, μ142Nd and ε176Hf and under the same conditions (see Extended Data Fig. 8).
Extended Data Figure 8 Isotope-evolution model for differentiation occurring under pressures representative of the modern lowest mantle.
Continuing on from Extended Data Fig. 7, left panels: 60% and 85% melt-out points; right panels: 80% and 95% melt-out points. a, b, Misfit to data averages for scenarios illustrated in Extended Data Fig. 7e, f. c, d, Selected model fit to Réunion μ142Nd–ε143Nd data. e, f, Same model as in panels c, d, with fit to ε143Nd–ε176Hf (ref. 8) data. Deep-mantle Hadean domains formed under these conditions are possibly the most susceptible to any overprinting that would mask correlations between μ142Nd and long-lived radiogenic isotope systems. Correlations between μ142Nd and ε143Nd appear to be shallow at the scales presented in panels c and d; however, they reflect the small x-axis scale that best represents the distribution of Réunion data. Réunion Nd isotope data in panels c and d can be found in Supplementary Table 1 or in the Source Data.
Extended Data Figure 9 A non-unique, upper-mantle differentiation scenario occurring in a bulk Earth with present-day values for 147Sm/144Nd of 0.196 and μ142Nd of −10.
Melting of 1.4% by mass at an age of 4.26 Gyr will form an early enriched reservoir (green line) that will evolve to possess a μ142Nd of about −31, and will leave behind a residual depleted mantle (orange line) that will evolve to possess a μ142Nd of 0; this latter value is identical to the terrestrial standard JNdi and identical to estimates for the composition of the upper mantle44. If melting locally progresses to 2.7%, it will produce an enriched reservoir (blue line) with a μ142Nd of about −28 and a conjugate depleted reservoir (red line) with a μ142Nd of about +20, which may subsequently mix to produce a μ142Nd composition similar to that of the Réunion source. Full model inputs are described in the Methods. Note that, unlike in Fig. 4a, the y-axis is normalized to the 142Nd/144Nd composition of the bulk Earth at a given x-axis time (μ142NdT) as opposed to the 142Nd/144Nd composition of the modern bulk Earth.
Extended Data Figure 10 Run information for the terrestrial neodymium standard JNdi throughout the analysis campaign, normalized to average 142Nd/144Nd before correction.
Analyses typically comprised 600–900 cycles of four steps each; steps 1 and 3, and steps 2 and 4, were each paired to calculate two dynamic-corrected 142Nd/144Nd ratios per cycle. Dynamic-corrected values correct for uncertainties in static measurements that are introduced by variable Faraday cup efficiencies. See Methods for details. Dynamic-corrected symbols represent averages and 2 s.e.m. of all dynamic-corrected ratios from that run.
This file contains Supplementary Tables 1 and 2. Supplementary Table 1 contains data per-sample Nd isotope results. Supplementary Table 2 contains per-run Nd isotope results. (XLSX 73 kb)
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Peters, B., Carlson, R., Day, J. et al. Hadean silicate differentiation preserved by anomalous 142Nd/144Nd ratios in the Réunion hotspot source. Nature 555, 89–93 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25754
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