Melt Production in the Mantle: Constraints from U-series

Bernard Bourdon*, Tim Elliott

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

4 Citations (Scopus)


U-series decay chains provide novel insights into mantle melting processes, notably on melting rates and on the porosity at which magma can separate from melting solid and the depth of melting. We review how such physical information can be derived from these geochemical measurements. U-series analyses are most clearly interpreted in the products of decompression melting, the most common mechanism of melting but also provide useful constraints on other modes of mantle melting such as isobaric heating and flux melting. There is tantalizing potential for U-series to constrain key aspects of mantle dynamics. The fraction of melt retained in the mantle informs on and influences its physical properties and U-series analyses clearly show that the residual melt porosity is ubiquitously low, only a few parts per thousand. Determination of melting rates from U-series measurements provides information about mantle upwelling velocities and mantle lithologies. This approach is of particular appeal in trying to understanding mantle plumes, although such scenarios are still under-constrained.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTimescales of Magmatic Processes: From Core to Atmosphere
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons, Inc
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781444332605
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2010


  • Melt production in Earth's mantle-processes operating in solid Earth
  • Melt production in mantle-constraints from U-series
  • Melting rate, due to lithospheric heating
  • Melting rate-determination based on U-series
  • Melting rates, based on major element geochemistry
  • Simple vs. complex models-for melt production in mantle
  • U-series decay chains, novel insights-into mantle melting processes
  • U-series disequilibria, attractive means-melt production in geodynamic settings
  • U-series nuclides-unique geochemical probes of melting processes


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