Upper mantle pollution during Afar plume-continental rift interaction

Tyrone O. Rooney, Barry B. Hanan, David W. Graham, Tanya Furman, Janne Blichert-toft, Jean Guy Schilling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Citations (SciVal)


New Pb, Sr, Nd, Hf, and He isotope data for Quaternary basalts, erupted from Debre Zeyit, Butajira, and the Wonji Fault Belt of the Main Ethiopian Rift, show systematic mixing relationships involving three distinct mantle sources. The Pb, Sr, Nd, and Hf isotopic arrays converge in a specific region of isotopic multi-space where they define the composition of the Afar mantle plume (centered about 206Pb/ 204Pb = 19·5, 87Sr/ 86Sr = 0·7035, ε Nd = +4·6, ε Hf = +9·3,. 3He/ 4He > 15 R A). This plume end-member has an identical composition to that observed previously in oceanic basalts. The distinct isotopic arrays for the various volcanic areas in the Main Ethiopian Rift vary spatially in a systematic manner, and may be viewed as pseudo-binary mixing arrays. This further suggests that the Afar mantle plume interacts with the local continental lithosphere and upper mantle asthenosphere (mid-ocean ridge basalt-like source) through an ordered sequence of mixing events. Simple mixing models require that the mass proportions of continental lithosphere and upper mantle involved in magma generation must be nearly constant within each volcanic area, but that the proportion of plume material decreases regularly with distance southwestward along the Main Ethiopian Rift, away from the central axis of the plume. This systematic behavior means that continental lithosphere can become detached and mixed into the shallow mantle prior to the flow of upwelling plume material beneath the developing rift system. Detachment and mixing into the asthenosphere during continental rift evolution is an important process for producing the range of ambient upper mantle compositions sampled by mid-ocean ridge volcanism away from island hotspots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberegr065
Pages (from-to)365-389
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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