Helium isotope composition of the early Iceland mantle plume inferred from the Tertiary picrites of West Greenland

D.W. Graham, L.M. Larsen, B.B. Hanan, M. Storey, A.K. Pedersen, J.E. Lupton

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117 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Picrites from the 61 million year old Vaigat Formation of the Nuussuaq Peninsula in West Greenland have 3He/4He ratios trapped in olivine phenocrysts which range up to 30 times the atmospheric ratio. These high values, measured during gas extraction by crushing in vacuum, are similar to the highest magmatic 3He/4He ratios found in young terrestrial volcanic rocks. By analogy with young basalts, in which crushing selectively extracts magmatic helium, any significant cosmogenic 3He appears to be absent in these picrites. Additional evidence for the absence of cosmogenic helium is provided by fusion results on the crushed olivine powders and by a single stepwise crushing experiment, in which only magmatic and radiogenic helium components are resolvable. The West Greenland picrites have Pb, Nd and Sr isotope compositions which overlap those found in picrites from Iceland and in basalts from Loihi Seamount, localities which today also have high 3He/4He ratios. Isotopic variations in He, Pb, Nd and Sr for the West Greenland picrites are interpreted to largely result from interaction of the early Iceland mantle plume with the upper mantle during plume ascent and dispersion beneath the continental lithosphere. The presence of high 3He/4He ratios in West Greenland, and the onset of magmatism across the North Atlantic Volcanic Province near 62 Ma, supports the hypothesis for very rapid dispersion (>1 m/year) of mantle plume head material during the earliest stages of plume impact, as predicted in recent numerical simulations of plume behavior during thermal mantle convection with non-Newtonian rheology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-255
Number of pages15
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume160
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1998

Keywords

  • Greenland
  • Helium
  • Isotopes
  • Mantle plumes
  • Olivine
  • Picrite
  • Tertiary

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources

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