Noble gases in the Cameroon line and the He, Ne, and Ar isotopic compositions of high mu (HIMU) mantle

D. N. Barfod, C. J. Ballentine, A. N. Halliday, J. G. Fitton

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Ultramafic xenoliths, basaltic lavas, and CO2 gases from the Cameroon line volcanic chain provide the first characterization of combined He, Ne, and Ar isotopes in a high-time-integrated 238U/204Pb = μ (HIMU) magmatic system. Helium isotopic compositions typically range from 5.0 to 6.7 Ra, with an average of 6.3. These values are indistinguishable from the 3He/4He of other HIMU locales (Austral Islands, St. Helena). Neon isotopic compositions for xenoliths and CO2 gases are mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB)-like, with a maximum 20Ne/22Ne of 11.87 and 21Ne/22Ne of 0.0508. Argon isotopic compositions in silicates range from atmospheric to 40Ar/36Ar = 4910±430 (crushing) and up to 16,300±1000 (single grain, laser step heating). The correlation between 20Ne/22Ne and 40Ar/36Ar in CO2 gases suggests a minimum 40Ar/36Ar = 1650±30 for the mantle-derived component. Uniform 3He/4He in silicates and in CO2 fluids across both the continental and oceanic sectors of the Cameroon line argues strongly for a negligible lithospheric contribution to noble gas isotopic compositions. This inference is supported by high 238U/3He in lherzolites, indicating that noble gases in these samples must have been recently introduced (<50,000 years ago) to the sample, most likely from the host magma. Ocean crust recycling models of mixing between MORB source regions and highly radiogenic slabs cannot produce the observed He and Ne isotopic compositions. Isolation and aging of MORB source mantle can generate the isotopic compositions but require extreme 3He/22Ne fractionation. Involvement of plume-derived gases, consistent with the lithophile element isotopic compositions, alleviates the need for strong 3He/22Ne fractionation. Closed-system aging of plume-derived heterogeneities can reproduce the data with minimum 3He/22Ne fractionation at reasonable 238U/3He ratios. However, diffusive exchange of He and to a lesser extent Ne between aged MORB source and aged plume veins could explain the occurrence of low 3He/4He compositions in all HIMU centers and the apparent low time-integrated 3He/22Ne of the Cameroon line.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29509-29527
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research
Issue numberB12
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 1999


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