Mineralogy of the mid-ocean-ridge basalt source from neodymium isotopic composition of abyssal peridotites

Nature. 2002 Jul 4;418(6893):68-72. doi: 10.1038/nature00798.

Abstract

Inferring the melting process at mid-ocean ridges, and the physical conditions under which melting takes place, usually relies on the assumption of compositional similarity between all mid-ocean-ridge basalt sources. Models of mantle melting therefore tend to be restricted to those that consider the presence of only one lithology in the mantle, peridotite. Evidence from xenoliths and peridotite massifs show that after peridotite, pyroxenite and eclogite are the most abundant rock types in the mantle. But at mid-ocean ridges, where most of the melting takes place, and in ophiolites, pyroxenite is rarely found. Here we present neodymium isotopic compositions of abyssal peridotites to investigate whether peridotite can indeed be the sole source for mid-ocean-ridge basalts. By comparing the isotopic compositions of basalts and peridotites at two segments of the southwest Indian ridge, we show that a component other than peridotite is required to explain the low end of the (143)Nd/(144)Nd variations of the basalts. This component is likely to have a lower melting temperature than peridotite, such as pyroxenite or eclogite, which could explain why it is not observed at mid-ocean ridges.