Constraints on the formation of basaltic magmas. Comment on “Lithosphere thickness controls the extent of mantle melting, depth of melt extraction and basalt compositions in all tectonic settings on Earth – a review and new perspectives” – by Niu Y.

Michele Lustrino*, Gillian Foulger, Malcolm Hole, James H Natland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Niu (2021) reviews fundamental topics of basaltic magma generation in the oceans and continents, including passive and active margins as well as intraplate regions. In his approach, Niu (2021) focuses on the role exerted by lithospheric (“LID”) thickness in controlling basalt compositions and volumes, proposing only a minor role, if any, for the thermal state of the mantle. A consequence of this is rejection of mantle plumes in controlling the compositions of MORB and OIB, albeit not excluding completely their existence to explain basalt petrogenesis. Although the fundamental role of the lithospheric mantle on continental breakup, deformation and volcanism was recognized over 50 years ago, this region has only rarely been considered a candidate source for basaltic rocks, being thought to be too cold, stiff and sterile to produce significant amounts of partial melt. However, the stability of C-H-bearing mineral phases such as carbonates, phlogopite and pargasitic amphibole at lithospheric mantle depths indicates relatively low solidus temperature, and the possibility to produce partial melts even under relatively cold thermal regimes. We contribute to this debate by proposing that a wide range of variables explain igneous activity on Earth and, likely, the other rocky planets. The “lid effect” is certainly important but there is evidence that other factors and variables also influence the compositions and volumes of melts produced in the upper mantle. Among these, bulk- and trace-element chemical heterogeneities, the distribution and speciation of volatiles, and large wavelength variations in temperature caused by radiogenic decay, are the most relevant.
Original languageEnglish
Article number103942
JournalEarth Science Reviews
Volume226
Early online date29 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • basalt
  • oceanic basins
  • lithosphere
  • mantle plume
  • igneous petrology
  • geochemistry
  • partial melting

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