Nd isotopic variations and petrogenetic models


  • D. J. DePaolo,

  • G. J. Wasserburg


The decay of 147Sm to 143Nd allows 143Nd/144Nd to be used to trace Sm/Nd fractionation in long time-scale geologic processes. 143Nd/144Nd has been measured in terrestrial rock samples of different ages to establish the characteristics of Nd isotopic evolution in the crust and mantle. The evolution of 143Nd/144Nd in the mantle indicates Sm/Nd essentially equal to that of chondrites, and implies a chondritic REE distribution for the earth. Variations in 143Nd/144Nd do exist in the mantle, however, indicating Sm/Nd heterogeneity and the existence of distinct mantle reservoirs with characteristic 143Nd/144Nd. 143Nd/144Nd in average crustal rocks today is much lower than found in recent mantle samples and reflects their age and low Sm/Nd. Oceanic tholeiites and alkali basalt are derived from sources with Sm/Nd which has been 5-10% greater than chondritic over the age of the earth. Alkali basalt can not be derived from mantle reservoirs which have been light REE-enriched for long times.