Distinct formation history for deep-mantle domains reflected in geochemical differences

Abstract

The Earth’s mantle is currently divided into the African and Pacific domains, separated by the circum-Pacific subduction girdle, and each domain features a large low shear-wave velocity province (LLSVP) in the lower mantle. However, it remains controversial as to whether the LLSVPs have been stationary through time or dynamic, changing in response to changes in global subduction geometry. Here we compile radiogenic isotope data on plume-induced basalts from ocean islands and oceanic plateaus above the two LLSVPs that show distinct lead, neodymium and strontium isotopic compositions for the two mantle domains. The African domain shows enrichment by subducted continental material during the assembly and breakup of the supercontinent Pangaea, whereas no such feature is found in the Pacific domain. This deep-mantle geochemical dichotomy reflects the different evolutionary histories of the two domains during the Rodinia and Pangaea supercontinent cycles and thus supports a dynamic relationship between plate tectonics and deep-mantle structures.

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Fig. 1: Global maps of the LLSVPs.
Fig. 2: Isotopic data of OIBs and OPBs derived from the deep source of the African and the Pacific mantle domains.
Fig. 3: Configurations of the continental masses and African and Pacific mantle domains for the present day, 200 Ma, 400 Ma and 600 Ma.

Data availability

The data supporting the findings of this study are available on the Georoc database (http://georoc.mpch-mainz.gwdg.de/georoc/).

Code availability

The Matlab files used for statistical distribution of the isotopic data are available from the corresponding author upon request.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship grant to Z.-X.L. (FL150100133). This is a contribution to IGCP 648. We thank N. Flament and R. Carlson for their constructive comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.

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Contributions

All authors helped with the writing and editing of the manuscript. L.S.D., the primary author, is the main contributor who designed the study, collected the data and drafted the paper. Z.-X.L. conceptualized the initial idea, clarified the relevant concepts, helped to design Fig. 3 and worked with L.S.D. on the writing of the paper. H.G. helped to design the data selection criteria and filtered the database. A.P. helped with the design of the selection criteria. J.B.M. helped to clarify the concepts and validated the approach. W.J.C. provided constraints on the timing of crustal contamination during the assembly of Pangea. N.M. helped with the interpretation of the isotopic compositions of both the African and Pacific domain basalts. H.K.H.O. helped with the data filtering of the Kerguelen samples and the grading of the hotspots and oceanic plateaus. C.J.S. designed the Matlab scripts and performed the statitiscal analysis. R.N.M. helped to clarify some of the concepts.

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Correspondence to Luc S. Doucet.

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Extended data

Extended Data Fig. 1 Isotopic data of Oceanic Island Basalts (OIBs) and Oceanic Plateau Basalts (OPBs) for the African (orange) and the Pacific (blue) mantle domains.

The isotope compositions are back-calculated to initial compositions at the time of crystallization for Kerguelen and Ontong Java oceanic plateau basalts. (a, b) 206Pb/204Pb vs. 208Pb/204Pb vs. (c, d) 207Pb/204Pb vs. 206Pb/204Pb, and (e, f) 143Nd/144Nd vs.87Sr/86Sr. The contour lines represent percentiles of the kernel density estimation (see Methods). Also shown is the Northern Hemisphere Reference Line (NHRL)16 that defines the DUPAL anomaly (above the NHRL).

Extended Data Fig. 2 Isotopic data of Oceanic Island Basalts (OIBs) and Oceanic Plateau Basalts (OPBs) for the African (orange) and the Pacific (blue) mantle Domains, axis scales similar to Fig. 2.

The isotope compositions are back-calculated to initial compositions at the time of crystallization for Kerguelen and Ontong Java oceanic plateau basalts. (a, b) 206Pb/204Pb vs. 208Pb/204Pb vs. (c, d) 207Pb/204Pb vs. 206Pb/204Pb, and (e, f) 143Nd/144Nd vs.87Sr/86Sr. The contour lines represent percentiles of the kernel density estimation (see Methods). Also shown is the Northern Hemisphere Reference Line (NHRL)16 that defines the DUPAL anomaly (above the NHRL).

Extended Data Fig. 3 List of deep sourced vs. shallower sourced ocean islands and oceanic plateaus from the African and Pacific mantle domain.

Scores for the eighteen major OIBs and OPBs with respect to the four criteria are used to determine their deep vs. shallow origins. For details see Methods.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Data 1

Isotopic compositions and geographic coordinates of ocean islands and oceanic plateau basalts from the African domain.

Supplementary Data 2

Isotopic compositions and geographic coordinates of ocean islands and oceanic plateau basalts from the Pacific domain.

Supplementary Data 3

Isotopic modelling reproducing the composition of the basalts with deep-mantle source from the African domain.

Supplementary Data 4

Matlab scripts used to produce the kernel density contours in Fig. 2 and Extended Data Figs. 1 and 2.

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Doucet, L.S., Li, Z., Gamal El Dien, H. et al. Distinct formation history for deep-mantle domains reflected in geochemical differences. Nat. Geosci. 13, 511–515 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-020-0599-9

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