We have examined the Sr, Nd, and Pb isotopic compositions of Mauna Kea lavas recovered by the first drilling phase of the Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project. These lavas, which range in age from ???200 to 400 ka, provide a detailed record of chemical and isotopic changes in basalt composition during the shied/postshield transition and extend our record of Mauna Kea volcanism to a late-shield period roughly equivalent to the last ???100 ka of Mauna Loa activity. Stratigraphic variations in isotopic composition reveal a gradual shift over time toward a more depleted source composition (e.g., higher 143Nd/144Nd, lower 87Sr/86Sr, and lower 3He/4He). This gradual evolution is in sharp contrast with the abrupt appearance of alkalic lavas at ???240 ka recorded by the upper 50 m of Mauna Kea lavas from the core. Intercalated tholeiitic and alkalic lavas from the uppermost Mauna Kea section are isotopically indistinguishable. Combined with major element evidence (e.g., decreasing SiO2 and increasing FeO) that the depth of melt segregation increased during the transition from tholeiitic to alkalic volcanism, the isotopic similarity of tholeiitic and alkalic lavas argues against significant lithosphere involvement during melt generation. Instead, the depleted isotopic signatures found in late shield-stage lavas are best explained by increasing the proportion of melt generated from a depleted upper mantle component entrained and heated by the rising central plume. Direct comparison of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa lavas erupted at equivalent stages in these volcanoes' life cycles reveals persistent chemical and isotopic differences independent of the temporal evolution of each volcano. The oldest lavas recovered from the drillcore are similar to modern Kilauea lavas, but are distinct from Mauna Loa lavas. Mauna Kea lavas have higher 143Nd/144Nd and 206Pb/204Pb and lower 87Sr/86Sr. Higher concentrations of incompatible trace elements in primary magmas, lower SiO2, and higher FeO also indicate that Mauna Kea lavas formed through smaller degrees of partial melting at greater depth than Mauna Loa lavas. These chemical and isotopic differences are consistently found between volcanoes along the western "Loa" and eastern "Kea" trends and reflect large-scale variations in source composition and melting environment. We propose a simple model of a radially zoned plume centered beneath the Loa trend. Loa trend lavas generated from the hot plume axis reflect high degrees of partial melting from a source containing a mixture of enriched plume-source material and entrained lower mantle. Kea trend lavas, in contrast, are generated from the cooler, peripheral portions of the plume, record lower degrees of partial melting, and tap a source containing a greater proportion of depleted upper mantle.
Additional publication details
Isotopic evolution of Mauna Kea volcano: Results from the initial phase of the Hawaii Scientific Drilling Project