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Role of recycled oceanic basalt and sediment in generating the Hf–Nd mantle array


Following its subduction, oceanic crust either contributes to the source of island-arc volcanic rocks or it is recycled into the mantle1. Most2,3, but not all authors4 believe that recycled crust is incorporated into the plume source of oceanic basalts. The hafnium (Hf) and neodymium (Nd) isotopic compositions of basalts from oceanic islands and mid-ocean ridges exhibit a linear relationship—the mantle array—which is thought to result from mixing between material from the depleted mantle and an enriched recycled component. Here, we model the Hf–Nd isotopic composition of oceanic basalts as a mixture of recycled oceanic crust and depleted mantle and find that recycling of basalt alone is not sufficient to reproduce the mantle array. We conclude that oceanic sediments, which have a relatively high 176Hf/177Hf ratio, must also be recycled. Combining oceanic sediments with recycled oceanic basalts and subsequent mixing with depleted mantle peridotite produces Hf and Nd isotopic compositions that coincide with the mantle array. The composition of bulk continental crust requires the existence of a complementary low 176Hf/177Hf reservoir, which we suggest is zircon-rich sediment.

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Figure 1: ɛHf and ɛNd values of oceanic basalts and oceanic sediments.
Figure 2: ɛHf versus ɛNd diagrams comparing modelled and measured data.
Figure 3: Comparison between our Monte Carlo simulations and measured values for OIB and MORB.


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We thank A.W. Hofmann for his suggestions that helped improve the manuscript. The work was supported by grants from ‘Dyeti’ CNRS program and ANR in France.

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Authors and Affiliations



C.C. conceived the model and wrote the paper. E.L. made the numerical simulation. M.C. and J.-C.M. contributed to the data compilation and N.T.A. suggested several important ideas. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Catherine Chauvel.

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Chauvel, C., Lewin, E., Carpentier, M. et al. Role of recycled oceanic basalt and sediment in generating the Hf–Nd mantle array. Nature Geosci 1, 64–67 (2008).

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