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The influence of crustal recycling on the molybdenum isotope composition of the Earth’s mantle

Hin, Remco C., Hibbert, Kate E. J., Chen, Shuo, Willbold, Matthias, Andersen, Morten B. ORCID:, Kiseeva, Ekaterina S., Wood, Bernard J., Niu, Yaoling, Sims, Kenneth W. W. and Elliott, Tim 2022. The influence of crustal recycling on the molybdenum isotope composition of the Earth’s mantle. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 595 , 117760. 10.1016/j.epsl.2022.117760

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Several studies have suggested that the Earth's upper mantle is slightly enriched in light molybdenum isotopes relative to bulk Earth, defined by chondrites, but there is no consensus on the presence of this subtle but potentially notable signature. To establish better whether or not the 98Mo/95Mo of Earth's upper mantle is indeed sub-chondritic, we have analysed hand-picked glasses of depleted (i.e. chondrite normalised La/Sm<1) mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) from the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian ocean basins. The mean Mo isotope composition of our depleted MORB relative to reference NIST SRM 3134 ( MoNIST SRM 3134) is −0.22±0.03‰ (95% confidence interval, c.i.) compared to a value of −0.15±0.01‰ (95% c.i.) for bulk Earth. Our high precision analyses of the 234U/238U activity ratios of these samples are within uncertainty of unity, which rules out the effect of possible secondary, sea-floor processes as the dominant cause of their low MoNIST SRM 3134. We further report experimental data showing that sulphide liquid has MoNIST SRM 3134 0.25±0.01‰ lower than basaltic silicate liquid at 1400 °C. This fractionation is too small to significantly alter the Mo isotope composition of basalts relative to their sources during melting or differentiation. Our MORB data show that resolvably sub-chondritic Mo isotope compositions are common in the upper mantle. Moreover, an appropriately weighted average MoNIST SRM 3134 of depleted and enriched MORB, taken from this study and the literature, yields an estimated mantle value of −0.20±0.01‰, indicating that the upper mantle as a whole is sub-chondritic. Since prior work demonstrates that core formation will not create a residual silicate reservoir with a sub-chondritic MoNIST SRM 3134, we propose that this feature is a result of recycling oceanic crust with low MoNIST SRM 3134 because of Mo isotope fractionation during subduction dehydration. Such an origin is in keeping with the sub-chondritic Th/U and low Ce/Pb of the depleted mantle, features which cannot be explained by simple melt extraction. We present mass balance models of the plate tectonic cycle that quantitatively illustrate that the MoNIST SRM 3134 of the Earth's mantle can be suitably lowered by such oceanic crustal recycling. Our Mo isotope study adds to the notion that the depleted mantle has been substantially modified by geodynamic cycling of subduction-processed oceanic crust.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
ISSN: 1385-013X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 4 August 2022
Date of Acceptance: 1 August 2022
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 11:36

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