Layered lithospheric mantle beneath the Ontong Java Plateau: Implications from xenoliths in Alnöite, Malaita, Solomon Islands

Akira Ishikawa, Shigenori Maruyama, Tsuyoshi Komiya

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    58 Citations (Scopus)


    A varied suite of mantle xenoliths from Malaita, Solomon Islands, was investigated to constrain the evolution of the mantle beneath the Ontong Java Plateau. Comprehensive petrological and thermobarometric studies make it possible to identify the dominant processes that produced the compositional diversity and to reconstruct the lithospheric stratigraphy in the context of a paleogeotherm. P-T estimates show that both peridotites and pyroxenites can be assigned to a shallower or deeper origin, separated by a garnet-poor zone of 10 km between 90 and 100 km. This zone is dominated by refractory spinel harzburgites (F091-92), indicating the occurrence of an intra lithospheric depleted zone. Shallower mantle (∼Moho to 95 km) is composed of variably metasomatized peridotite with subordinate pyroxenite derived from metacumulates. Deeper mantle (∼95-120 km) is represented by pyroxenite and variably depleted peridotites that are unevenly distributed; the least-depleted garnet lherzolite (F090-91) lies just below the garnet-poor depleted zone (∼100-110 km), whereas the presence of pyroxenite is restricted to the deepest region (∼110- 120 km), together with relatively Fe-enriched garnet lherzolite (F087-88). This depth-related variation (including the depleted zone) can be explained by assuming that the degree of melting for a basalt-peridotite hybrid source was systematically different at each level of arrival depth within a single adiabatically ascending mantle plume: (1) the depleted zone at the top of the mantle plume, where garnet was totally consumed in the residual solid; (2) an intermediate part of the plume dominated by the least-depleted garnet lherzolite just above the depth of the peridotite solidus; (3) the deepest pyroxenite-rich zone, whose petrochemical variation is best explained by the interaction between peridotite and normative quartz-rich basaltic melt, below the solidus of peridotite and liquidus of basalt. We explain the obvious lack of pyroxenites at shallower depths as the effective extraction of hybrid melt from completely molten basalt through the partially molten ambient peridotite, which caused the voluminous eruption of the Ontong Java Plateau basalts. From these interpretations, we conclude that the lithosphere forms a genetically unrelated two-layered structure, comprising shallower oceanic lithosphere and deeper impinged plume material, which involved a recycled basaltic component, now present as a pyroxenitic heterogeneity. This interpretation for the present lithospheric structure may explain the seismically anomalous root beneath the Ontong Java Plateau.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)2011-2044
    Number of pages34
    JournalJournal of Petrology
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2004


    • Mantle xenolith
    • Ontong Java Plateau
    • Peridotite
    • Pyroxenite

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geophysics
    • Geochemistry and Petrology


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