Triple junction magmatism: a geochemical study of Neogene volcanic rocks in western California

Earth and Planetary Science Letters
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Inception of volcanism at late Oligocene to Recent centers in the eastern Coast Ranges of California (ECR suite) regularly decreases in age northward and is correlated with the northward migration of the transform-transform-trench Mendocino triple junction (MTJ). Miocene volcanism in the southern California basin (SCB suite) is spatially and temporally associated with the transform-ridge-trench Rivera triple junction (RTJ). The tholeiitic to calc-alkaline rocks in both suites were erupted through older trench melange while arc magmatism was occurring several hundred kilometers to the east. Therefore they are not related to subduction zone magmatism, but instead to interactions of the MTJ and RTJ with the continental margin. The ECR rocks, dominantly intermediate to silicic in composition, have relatively high ??18O values up to 11.3, 87Sr 86Sr ratios up to 0.7055, as well as relatively high Th contents, suggesting that crustal anatexis played a dominant role in their generation. Coupled crystal fractionation and crustal assimilation by an initially basaltic magma cannot explain the high ??18O values and 87Sr 86Sr ratios because greater than 95% of the basalt would need to crystallize. In contrast, the SCB rocks, dominantly mafic to intermediate in composition, have relatively low ??18O values down to 5.2 and 87Sr 86Sr ratios down to 0.7025 suggesting that these rocks were derived dominantly from a mantle source. Whether crustal anatexis occurs is determined largely by the type of stress a triple junction imposes upon the continental margin. Both the MTJ and RTJ are associated with high heat flow and magma fluxes from the mantle. The transform-transform-trench MTJ is associated with locally variable mild extension to compression and therefore allows pooling of basaltic magma in the crust to initiate crustal melting. The high rates of continental extension associated with the transform-ridge-trench RTJ prevents such pooling of magma. The space created by decoupling of the subducted slab at a transform-transform-trench triple junction might promote passive upwelling of mantle material to fill it and induce melting to generate basalts. Mafic volcanic rocks of this origin may provide a unique view of the subcontinental mantle at the continental margin. 87Sr 86Sr ratios as low as 0.70255 for mafic volcanic rocks in the Sonoma-Tolay center associated with the MTJ contrast with high La Sm ratios of 1.1 to 1.3 and low Zr Nb, Hf Ta, La Th, and La Ta ratios of 5.0 to 6.7, 2.6 to 3.5, 4.7 to 8.8, and 10.2 to 12.5, respectively. These data suggest that the mantle beneath parts of western California may have originally been depleted but has been enriched relatively recently. Such enrichment might have occurred by metasomatic processes associated with crustal accretion and/or juxtaposition of differing lithospheric mantle in the Mesozoic and Cenozoic. ?? 1984.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Triple junction magmatism: a geochemical study of Neogene volcanic rocks in western California
Series title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 71
Issue 2
Year Published 1984
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Earth and Planetary Science Letters
First page 241
Last page 262
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