e-mail: dweis@eos.ubc.ca
phone / tél.: 1-604-822.1697
mobile: 778-386.4466

Kerguelen Mantle Plume and Other Large Igneous Provinces

After Hawaii and Iceland, the third largest oceanic island is the Kerguelen Archipelago. The origins of this island and the associated giant oceanic plateau, which is greater than 15 million km3, have been debated by the geological community for many years. The Kerguelen mantle plume has been active for the past 120 million years (e.g., Frey et al., 2002).

Baie Larose
Baie Larose, Kerguelen: The emperor penguins provide a scale for the huge basaltic flow—the cliffs are >800 m high.

From 1997–2002, Dominique led a multi-national project on the study of this mantle plume and has published over 40 papers on the topic. Her primary contribution to this project has been the determination of the geochemical source characteristics and their evolution with time and tectonic settings. The results have allowed for quantitative modeling of the continental crustal contamination in Elan Bank, among other Cretaceous plateau sites during the early stages of continental break-up (Weis et al., 2001; Ingle et al., 2002). The results have also led to the ability to model the relative proportion of the depleted mantle component in the basalts (Weis and Frey, 2002).

In addition, her work defines the enriched component of the Kerguelen mantle plume (EM-I end-member) and demonstrates the absence of any continental component in the basalts on the archipelago (<34 Ma). These results are particularly important, in terms of overall mantle dynamics, by connecting EM-I and the African low-velocity zone (Weis et al., 2011).

Mantle Xenoliths
Mantle xenoliths on the Southeast Province of the Kerguelen Islands, Presqu’île Jeanne d’Arc.
Lava Flow
Kerguelen lava flow.

We now have a better idea of the isotopic characteristics of the other major EM-I mantle plumes. The data puts constraints on the composition of the large low-shear velocity provinces under Africa and under the Pacific.

Studies have expanded to other large igneous provinces (Wrangellia: Greene et al., 2008, 2009 a&b; Caribbean: Escuder-Viruete et al., 2006, 2007) and other hotspot tracks to further the constraints on the modes of formation and mantle sources of these major Earth’s features.

Comparison of age-corrected (230 Ma) Sr-Nd-Hf-Pb isotopic compositions for Karmutsen flood basalts on Vancouver Island, with age-corrected OIB and MORB and Nb-Zr-Y variation (Greene et al., 2009).
Summary of ages and biostratigraphy in five areas of Wrangellia. Radiometric ages are white circles. Fossil ages are colored according to the formation they are found in the stratigraphic column. Circles that are multicolored green and blue indicate fossils from interflow sedimentary lenses, and other multicolored circles indicate fossils found near the contact between two formations (Greene et al., 2010).

Image Gallery:

Further Reading:

Frey, F.A. et al. (2015) Depleted components in the source of hotspot magmas: Evidence from the Ninetyeast Ridge (Kerguelen). Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 426: 293–304.

Hildenbrand, A. et al. (2014) Plate re-organization at Azores Triple Junction: evidence from combined geochemical and geochronological data on Fail, S. Jorge and Terceira volcanic islands. Lithos, 210–211: 27–39.

Heydolph, K. et al. (2014) Plume versus plate origin for Shatsky Rise Oceanic Plateau (NW Pacific): Insights from Nd, Pb and Hf isotopes of lavas from IODP Expedition 324. Lithos, 200–201: 49–63.

Nobre Silva, I.G. et al. (2013) The Ninetyeast Ridge and its relation to the Kerguelen, Amsterdam and St. Paul hotspots in the Indian Ocean. Journal of Petrology, 54: 1177–1210.

Escuder Viruete, J. et al. (2011) Pelona-Pico Duarte basalts Formation, Central Hispaniola: an on-land section of Late Cretaceous volcanism related to the Caribbean large igneous province. Geologica Acta, 9: 307–328.

Nobre Silva, I.G. et al. (2010) Effects of acid leaching on the Sr-Nd-Hf isotopic compositions of ocean island basalts. Geochem., Geophys., Geosys., 11(9).

Greene, A.R. et al. (2010) The architecture of oceanic plateaus revealed by the volcanic stratigraphy of the accreted Wrangellia oceanic plateau. Geosphere, 6: 47–73.

Escuder Viruete, J. et al. (2010) Geochemical characteristics of the Río Verde Complex, Central Hispaniola: Implications for the paleotectonic reconstruction of the Lower Cretaceous Caribbean island-arc. Lithos, 114: 168–185.

Nobre Silva, I.G. (2009) Leaching systematics and matrix elimination for the determination of high‐precision Pb isotope compositions of ocean island basalts. Geochem., Geophys., Geosys., 10(8).

Escuder Viruete, J. et al. (2009) Geochemical constraints on the origin of late Jurassic proto-caribbean oceanic crust in Hispaniola. International Journal of Earth Sciences, 98: 407–425.

Greene, A.R. et al. (2009) Geochemistry of Triassic flood basalts from the Yukon (Canada) segment of the accreted Wrangellia oceanic plateau. Lithos, 110: 1–19.

Greene, A.R. et al. (2009) Melting history and magmatic evolution of basalts and picrites from the accreted Wrangellia oceanic plateau, Vancouver Island, Canada. Journal of Petrology, 50: 467–505.

Hanano, D. et al. (2009) Alteration mineralogy and the effect of acid-leaching on the Pb-isotope systematics of ocean-island basalts. American Mineralogist, 94: 17–26.

Greene, A.R. et al. (2008) Wrangellia flood basalts in Alaska: A record of plume-lithosphere interaction in a Late Triassic accreted oceanic plateau. Geochem., Geophys., Geosys., 9(12).

Escuder Viruete, J. et al. (2008) Caribbean island-arc rifting and back-arc basin development in the Late Cretaceous: geochemical, isotopic and geochronological evidence from Central Hispaniola. Lithos, 104: 378–404.

Scoates, J.S. et al. (2008) The Val Gabbro plutonic suite: a sub-volcanic intrusion emplaced at the end of flood basalt volcanism on the Kerguelen Archipelago. Journal of Petrology, 48: 79–105.