Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

Chalcophile element systematics in volcanic glasses from the northwestern Lau Basin



[1] The Lau Backarc Basin (S.W. Pacific) hosts numerous spreading centers and rifts, including the Rochambeau Rifts (RR), Northwest Lau Spreading Center (NWLSC), and Central Lau Spreading Center (CLSC). Samples from the NWLSC, RR and CLSC show no evidence for a subduction-derived component in their mantle source regions or evidence for S loss during eruption. The contents of S in glasses from the NWLSC and many from the CLSC and the RR are lower than MORB at a given FeOTOT, indicating melts were initially sulfide-undersaturated. During differentiation, the decrease in Cu and Ag contents at ∼7 wt% MgO and the concomitant change in chalcophile element ratios marks the onset of sulfide saturation. The initially sulfide-undersaturated compositions of samples from the NWLSC are attributed to partial melting at pressures higher than parental MORB. The NWLSC and some of the CLSC and RR samples are strikingly enriched in Cu and Ag compared with MORB. This is a characteristic shared by basalts generated in many plume-related tectonic settings. The only plume-related samples that appear to be sulfide-saturated during differentiation and plot within the MORB array are alkaline basalts from the nearby Samoan islands. RR and CLSC basalts have a range in Cu contents, which can be explained by variable mixing between a high-Cu NWLSC-type melt with low-Cu sources from the Samoan plume (RR) and MORB-type mantle (CLSC). The RR alone of these three suites have markedly positive Pb, As, Tl and subtle Mo anomalies, possibly related to assimilation of old, hydrothermally altered, Vitiaz Arc crust.