Melt generation beneath Arctic Ridges: Implications from U decay series disequilibria in the Mohns, Knipovich, and Gakkel Ridges

L. J. Elkins*, K. W W Sims, J. Prytulak, J. Blichert-Toft, T. Elliott, J. Blusztajn, S. Fretzdorff, M. Reagan, K. Haase, S. Humphris, J. G. Schilling

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


We present new 238U-230Th-226Ra-210Pb, 235U-231Pa, and Nd, Sr, Hf, and Pb isotope data for the slow- to ultraslow-spreading Mohns, Knipovich, and Gakkel Ridges. Combined with previous work, our data from the Arctic Ridges cover the full range of axial depths from the deep northernmost Gakkel Ridge shallowing upwards to the Knipovich, Mohns, and Kolbeinsey Ridges north of Iceland. Age-constrained samples from the Mohns and Knipovich Ridges have (230Th/238U) activity ratios ranging from 1.165 to 1.30 and 1.101 to 1.225, respectively. The high 230Th excesses of Kolbeinsey, Mohns, and Knipovich mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) are erupted from ridges producing relatively thin (Mohns, Knipovich) to thick (Kolbeinsey) oceanic crust with evidence for sources ranging from mostly peridotite (Kolbeinsey) to eclogite-rich mantle (Mohns, Knipovich). Age-constrained lavas from 85°E on the Gakkel Ridge, on the other hand, overlie little to no crust and range from small (~5%) 230Th excesses to small 238U excesses (~5%). The strong negative correlation between (230Th/238U) values vs. axial ridge depth among Arctic ridge basalts is controlled not only by solidus depth influence on 238U-230Th disequilibria, but also by variations in mantle source lithology and depth to the base of the lithosphere, which is expected to vary at ultra-slow spreading ridges. Small 231Pa excesses (65% excess) in age-constrained basalts support the presence of eclogite in the mantle source for this region. Conversely, the ultraslow-spreading Gakkel Ridge basalts are homogeneous, with Sr, Nd, and Hf radiogenic isotopic signatures indicative of a long time-averaged depleted mantle source. The Gakkel samples have minimum (226Ra/230Th) ratios ranging from 3.07 to 3.65±3%, which lie along and extend the global negative correlation between 226Ra and 230Th excesses observed in MORB. The new 230Th-226Ra data support a model for global MORB production in which deep melts record interaction with shallower materials. This scenario requires either mixing with shallow-derived melts, or melt-rock reaction with shallower rocks in the lithosphere or crust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-170
Number of pages31
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2014


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