Mitchell Ross N.

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Archean cratonic mantle recycled at a mid-ocean ridge

2022-04-15 , Liu, Chuan-Zhou , Dick, Henry J. B. , Mitchell, Ross N. , Wei, Wu , Zhang, Zhen-Yu , Hofmann, Albrecht W. , Yang, Jian-Feng , Li, Yang

Basalts and mantle peridotites of mid-ocean ridges are thought to sample Earth’s upper mantle. Osmium isotopes of abyssal peridotites uniquely preserve melt extraction events throughout Earth history, but existing records only indicate ages up to ~2 billion years (Ga) ago. Thus, the memory of the suspected large volumes of mantle lithosphere that existed in Archean time (>2.5 Ga) has apparently been lost somehow. We report abyssal peridotites with melt-depletion ages up to 2.8 Ga, documented by extremely unradiogenic 187Os/188Os ratios (to as low as 0.1095) and refractory major elements that compositionally resemble the deep keels of Archean cratons. These oceanic rocks were thus derived from the once-extensive Archean continental keels that have been dislodged and recycled back into the mantle, the feasibility of which we confirm with numerical modeling. This unexpected connection between young oceanic and ancient continental lithosphere indicates an underappreciated degree of compositional recycling over time.