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Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

Heterogeneous magnesium isotopic composition of the lower continental crust: A xenolith perspective

Authors

  • Fang-Zhen Teng,

    Corresponding author
    1. Isotope Laboratory, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
    2. Isotope Laboratory, Department of Geosciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
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  • Wei Yang,

    1. Isotope Laboratory, Department of Geosciences, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA
    2. State Key Laboratory of Lithospheric Evolution, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
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  • Roberta L. Rudnick,

    1. Geochemistry Laboratory, Department of Geology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA
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  • Yan Hu

    1. Isotope Laboratory, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA
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Abstract

[1] We report 26 high-precision whole-rock Mg isotopic analyses for two suites of well-characterized granulite xenoliths from Chudleigh and McBride, North Queensland, Australia, in order to constrain the behavior of Mg isotopes during deep crustal processes and the Mg isotopic composition of the lower continental crust. Previous studies suggest that the Chudleigh granulites are a suite of cogenetic cumulates crystallized from mafic magmas that intruded into and assimilated the preexisting lower crust via combined assimilation and fractional crystallization (AFC). The δ26Mg values of the xenoliths range from −0.31 to −0.21‰ and correlate with radiogenic isotopes, reflecting mixing of mantle-derived mafic magma (δ26Mg = −0.31‰) with preexisting isotopically heavy crustal materials (δ26Mg = ∼ +0.5‰) through the AFC process. The McBride granulites range compositionally from mafic to felsic, and originated as cumulates, solidified mafic/felsic melts, and restites that formed during basaltic underplating and reworking of preexisting lower crust. Their δ26Mg values vary widely from −0.72 to +0.19‰. The large Mg isotopic variation in the McBride xenoliths reflects both distinct source compositions and metamorphic enrichment of garnet, which is isotopically light. Based on these results, the lower continental crust has a heterogeneous Mg isotopic composition, with a weighted average δ26Mg of −0.18‰. The bulk continental crust, based on available data, has an average Mg isotopic composition of −0.19‰, and is slightly heavier than the mantle. The highly heterogeneous Mg isotopic distribution in the crust indicates that chemical weathering not only modifies the upper crust compositions but also significantly influences lower crust compositions through emplacement of upper crustal materials into the deep crust.

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