Evolution of the Earth's mantle-crust-atmosphere system from the trace element and isotope geochemistry of the plume-mantle reservoir
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The 62 million year old lava flows of Baffin Island and West Greenland represent the earliest phase of magmatism in the North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP). These picritic lavas are characterised by high magnesium contents owing to their high proportion of olivine crystals. The parental magmas for the picrites are likely to have accumulated olivine crystals on their transit through the lithosphere and crust. Debate over the origin of accumulated crystals in the lavas results in uncertainty in the temperature and composition of the parental magmas for the early NAIP. The magnesium-rich olivine crystals (up to Fo93) in the picrites of this study are shown not to have a xenocrystic origin. The samples, therefore, support the inference of high potential temperatures for the Baffin Island-West Greenland magmas, ~200oC above ambient mantle. The picrites of Baffin Island and West Greenland display the highest terrestrial magmatic 3He/4He (up to 50 Ra, where Ra is the atmospheric value 1.39 x 10-6), values that are considerably higher than the highest 3He/4He in contemporary ocean island basalts, which reach a maximum of ~30 Ra. High 3He/4He in Baffin Island and West Greenland are associated with a wide range of incompatible trace element and lithophile radiogenic isotopic compositions, not dissimilar to the range of compositions displayed by lavas at mid-ocean ridges, and overlapping the range displayed by most northern hemisphere ocean island basalts. Crustal contamination modelling in which high-grade Proterozoic crustal basement rocks are mixed with depleted parents cannot account for the compositional trends displayed by the picrites. Major and trace element compositions were determined on melt inclusions in high- 3He/4He picrites that span a wide range of whole-rock incompatible trace element and radiogenic isotopic compositions. The melt inclusions support the findings from the whole-rock study since melt inclusion compositions reflect the composition of their associated whole-rock, with no anomalous compositions present. In addition, there is no evidence for a contribution of a proportion of depleted melts to the source of the relatively enriched whole-rock samples. Therefore, since all melt inclusions were contained within high-3He/4He samples, it is shown that high 3He/4He is a feature of both depleted and relatively enriched melt compositions. The wide range in whole-rock compositions of the Baffin Island and West Greenland picrites represents that of the sub-lithospheric mantle source region and is inconsistent with derivation of the picrites from residues of ancient mantle depletion. The apparent decoupling of helium from trace elements and radiogenic isotopes is hard to reconcile with simple mixing of a high-helium concentration, high-3He/4He reservoir with various depleted and enriched helium-poor mantle reservoirs. It is possible that primordial helium has diffused into a reservoir with a composition similar to that of the convecting upper mantle. However, this must have occurred after the development of existing mantle heterogeneity. The high-3He/4He picrites require the existence of a deep, primordial helium-rich reservoir. Whether this reservoir is present in the upper or deep mantle, or even the core, remains uncertain.