Magmatic Processes at a Slow-Spreading Ridge Segment - 26-Degrees-S Mid-Atlantic Ridge

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Journal of Geophysical Research-Solid Earth
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Oct 10
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We present new data on the mineralogy, and major and trace element compositions of lavas dredged along a segment of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge at similar to 26 degrees S. This segment is bounded on the north by the Rio Grande transform and on the south by the Moore discontinuity and has an along-axis, central high rising to similar to 2600 m near the middle of the segment. The segment is well-studied and die dredges are spaced similar to 7 lan apart. The lavas are exclusively normal mid-ocean ridge basalt (N-MORB), with a limited range of MgO (8.62-6.55 wt %). Petrographically, the lavas are dominated by low-pressure mineral assemblages, with two distinct crystallization sequences: Type I basalts have pl --> pl + ol --> pl + ol + cpx and come mainly from the interior of the segment; type II basalts, mainly from near the offsets, have ol --> ol + pi --> ol + pi + cpx. Some of the lavas contain rare anorthitic megacrysts and one sample contains a small gabbroic inclusion. The mineralogy and mineral chemistry are typical of N-MORB lavas elsewhere. Type I lavas have higher CaO and lower FeO, TiO2, and Na2O than type II, but similar Al2O3 contents. Type I lavas define curvilinear trends on MgO variation diagrams and represent diverse parental melts that have undergone variable extents of low-pressure fractionation. In contrast, type II lavas exhibit less fractionation and more diversity of inferred parental melt compositions. Fractionation of all the lavas appears to have been mainly at low pressure, though we cannot rule out the possibility of some higher-pressure, polybaric crystallization, Except for lavas near the offsets, there is a rough correlation of lava chemistry and axial depth, defining along-axis ''W'' and ''M'' patterns. We infer that the center of the segment has higher magma supply than the ends and that magma chambers in the center are larger and more like those at the East Pacific Rise than those near offsets. Overall, the segment is fed by diverse magma types with different melting histories that retain their chemical distinctiveness all the way to the surface. Ni, [La/Sm](N), and other trace elements also display ''W'' patterns, as do isotope ratios, but the patterns are noisier than those of the major elements. We infer that the mantle source of the lavas is heterogenous but its range of variability in major and trace elements and isotope ratios appears to be small. The rare earth elements and major elements normalized to 8 wt % MgO exhibit U-shaped along-axis variation patterns. Calculations show that the along-axis initial depth of melting is constant at similar to 50 km but that the final depth of melting varies from similar to 35 km near offsets to similar to 28 km in the center. The mean extent of melting varies from 15% near offsets to 18% in the center and correlates with values of the mantle Bouguer anomaly, suggesting that the gravity pattern is of shallow feature (< 50 km). We suggest that the melting patterns and density structure result from the combined effect of along-axis variation in mantle upwelling and melt production and the cold edges near offsets. The 26 degrees S segment exhibits the local trend of chemical variation. New chemical evidence (Ca, Ti, and Ni data) strengthens the hypothesis that the local trend at slow spreading ridges is due to the melting reaction: melt A + pyroxene double right arrow melt B + olivine. We suggest that this reaction, occurring in ascending and melting diapirs, is an important process at slow spreading ridges, consistent with gravity and modeling studies.


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