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Highly unradiogenic lead isotope ratios from the Horoman peridotite in Japan

Nature Geoscience volume 1, pages 859863 (2008) | Download Citation



Basalts at mid-ocean ridges are generated by partial melting of the Earth’s upper mantle. As a result of this process, the upper mantle has become depleted over time in elements that are preferentially removed by melting1,2,3. Although mid-ocean-ridge basalts have traditionally been thought to reflect the chemical composition of such depleted mantle2,3,4,5,6,7, recent work has revealed the existence of domains in the upper mantle that are apparently not sampled by the basalts8. Here we present the lead (Pb), neodymium (Nd) and hafnium (Hf) isotope compositions of peridotites from the Horoman orogenic massif in Japan, which is considered to represent the residues of melting of the upper mantle. These peridotites exhibit the lowest Pb isotope ratios reported from any known mantle material, along with high Nd and Hf isotope ratios. These data suggest that chemical depletion of the peridotites occurred around a billion years ago, and that they represent ancient mantle domains that have escaped convective stirring and homogenization. We suggest that such domains—if abundant in the mantle—may constitute a hitherto unrecognized reservoir with highly unradiogenic lead.

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We thank T. Moriguti, K. Kobayashi, T. Yokoyama and other colleagues for discussion and analytical help. K. Ozawa, K. Kunugiza, T. Usui and T. Moriyama are acknowledged for help in collecting samples. R. Tanaka and C. Sakaguchi are thanked for help in X-ray fluorescence and Sm–Nd analysis respectively. We are grateful to B. Mysen and K. Yamashita for improving the manuscript and A. W. Hofmann and F. Frey for constructive comments. This study was supported by the programme of the ‘Centre of Excellence for the 21st Century in Japan’ from MEXT to E.N. and Grants-in-aid from JSPS to A.M.

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    • Takeshi Kuritani

    Present address: Department of Earth and Planetary Materials Science, Graduate School of Science, Tohoku University, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi-ken 980-8578, Japan.


  1. The Pheasant Memorial Laboratory for Geochemistry and Cosmochemistry (PML), Institute for Study of the Earth’s Interior, Okayama University at Misasa, Tottori-ken 682-0193, Japan

    • Sanjeewa P. K. Malaviarachchi
    • , Akio Makishima
    • , Masaaki Tanimoto
    • , Takeshi Kuritani
    •  & Eizo Nakamura


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E.N. initiated and formulated this project. S.P.K.M. carried out the project and wrote the paper as part of his PhD thesis. All authors contributed to analysis of the samples and interpretation of the results.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Sanjeewa P. K. Malaviarachchi or Eizo Nakamura.

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