Tungsten isotope evidence that mantle plumes contain no contribution from the Earth's core

A Schersten, T Elliott, C Hawkesworth, M Norman

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    118 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Osmium isotope ratios provide important constraints on the sources of ocean-island basalts, but two very different models have been put forward to explain such data. One model interprets Os-187-enrichments in terms of a component of recycled oceanic crust within the source material(1,2). The other model infers that interaction of the mantle with the Earth's outer core produces the isotope anomalies and, as a result of coupled Os-186-Os-187 anomalies, put time constraints on inner-core formation(3-5). Like osmium, tungsten is a siderophile ('iron-loving') element that preferentially partitioned into the Earth's core during core formation but is also 'incompatible' during mantle melting (it preferentially enters the melt phase), which makes it further depleted in the mantle. Tungsten should therefore be a sensitive tracer of core contributions in the source of mantle melts. Here we present high-precision tungsten isotope data from the same set of Hawaiian rocks used to establish the previously interpreted Os-186-Os-187 anomalies and on selected South African rocks, which have also been proposed to contain a core contribution(6). None of the samples that we have analysed have a negative tungsten isotope value, as predicted from the core-contribution model. This rules out a simple core-mantle mixing scenario and suggests that the radiogenic osmium in ocean-island basalts can better be explained by the source of such basalts containing a component of recycled crust.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)234-237
    Number of pages4
    JournalNature
    Volume427
    Issue number6971
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2004

    Keywords

    • OCEAN ISLAND BASALTS
    • HF-W CHRONOMETRY
    • HAWAIIAN PICRITES
    • IRON-METEORITES
    • SYSTEMATICS
    • GEOCHEMISTRY
    • COSMOCHEMISTRY
    • COMPONENTS
    • ACCRETION
    • ASTEROIDS

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