Tholeiitic and alkali basalts from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at 43 ° N

Tsugio Shibata, Geoffrey Thompson, Frederick A. Frey

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74 Citations (Scopus)


Tholeiitic basalts dredged from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge (MAR) axis at 43 ° N are enriched in incompatible trace elements compared to the ' normal' incompatible element depleted tholeiites found from 49 ° N to 59 ° N and south of 33 ° N on the MAR. The most primitive 43 ° N glasses have MgO/FeO*= 1.2 and coexist with olivine (Fo90-91) and chrome-rich spinel. The tholeiitic basalts from the MAR 43 ° N are distinct from the strongly incompatible trace element depleted tholeiities found elsewhere in the Atlantic, and have trace element features typical of island tholeiities and MAR axis tholeiites from 45 ° N. Petrographic, major, and compatible trace element trends of the axial valley tholeiites at 43 ° N are consistent with shallow-level fractionation; in particular, evolution from primitive liquids with forsteritic olivine plus chrome spinel as liquidus phases to fractionated liquids with plagioclase plus clinopyroxene as major crystallizing phases. However, each dredge haul has distinctive incompatible trace element abundances. These trace element characteristics require a hetrogeneous mantle or complex processes such as open system fractional crystallization and magma mixing. Alkali basalts (∼5% normative nepheline) were dredged from a prominent fracture zone at 43 ° N. Typical of alkali basalts they are strongly enriched (compared to tholeiites) in incompatible elements. Their highly fractionated rare-earth element (REE) abundances require residual garnet during partial melting. The 43 ° N tholeiites and alkali basalts could be derived from a garnet peridotite source with REE contents equal to 2 × chondrites by ∼5% and 1% melting, respectively. Alternatively, they could be derived from a moderately light REE enriched source by ∼25% and 9.5% melting, respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-141
Number of pages15
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1979
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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