Olivine tholeiites, the youngest Tertiary units (about 8-11 m.y. old) at five widely spaced localities in northeastern Nevada, are geologically related to the basalts of the Snake River Plain, Idaho, to the north and are similar in major element and alkali chemistry to mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) and island arc tholeiites. The measured K (1250-3350 ppm), Rb (1??9-6??2 ppm) and Sr (140-240 ppm) concentrations overlap the range reported for MORB. Three of the five samples have low, unfractionated rare earth element (REE) patterns, the other two show moderate light-REE enrichment. Barium concentration is high and variable (100-780 ppm) and does not correlate with the other LIL elements. The rocks have 87Sr/86Sr = 0??7052-0??7076, considerably higher than MORB (~0??702-0??703). These samples are chemically distinct (i.e. less alkalic) from the olivine tholeiites from the adjacent Snake River Plain, but their Sr isotopic compositions are similar. They contain Sr that is distinctly more radiogenic than the basalts from the adjacent Great Basin. About 10 b.y. would be required for the mean measured Rb/Sr (~ 0??02) of these samples to generate, in a closed system, the radiogenic Sr they contain. The low alkali content of these basalts makes crustal contamination an unlikely mechanism. If the magma is uncontaminated, the time-averaged Rb/Sr of the source material must have been ~0??04. A significant decrease in Rb/Sr of the source material (a factor 2??) thus most probably occurred in the relatively recent (1??09 yr) past. Such a decrease of Rb/Sr in the mantle could accompany alkali depletion produced by an episode of partial melting and magma extraction. In contrast, low 87Sr 86Sr ratios indicate that the source material of the mid-ocean ridge basalts may have been depleted early in the Earth's history. ?? 1975.
Additional Publication Details
A high 87Sr 86Sr mantle source for low alkali tholeiite, northern Great Basin