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Published July 19, 2005 | Published
Journal Article Open

Oxygen isotope constraints on the sources of Central American arc lavas


Oxygen-isotope ratios of olivine and plagioclase phenocrysts in basalts and basaltic andesites from the Central American arc vary systematically with location, from a minimum δ18Oolivine value of 4.6 (below the range typical of terrestrial basalts) in Nicaragua near the center of the arc to a maximum δ18Oolivine value of 5.7 (above the typical range) in Guatemala near the northwest end of the arc. These oxygen-isotope variations correlate with major and trace element abundances and with Sr and Nd isotope compositions of host lavas, defining trends that suggest variations in δ18O reflect slab contributions to the mantle sources of these lavas. These trends can be explained by a model in which both a low-δ18O, water-rich component and a high-δ18O, water-poor component are extracted from the subducting Cocos slab and flux melting in the overlying mantle wedge. The first of these components dominates slab fluxes beneath the center of the arc and is the principal control on the extent of melting of the mantle wedge (which is highest in the center of the arc); the second component dominates slab fluxes beneath the northwestern margin of the arc. Fluxes of both components are small or negligible beneath the southeastern margin of the arc. We suggest that the low-δ18O component is a solute-rich aqueous fluid produced by dehydration of hydrothermally altered rocks deep within the Cocos slab (perhaps serpentinites produced in deep normal faults offshore of Nicaragua) and that the high-δ18O component is a partial melt of subducted sediment on top of the plate.

Additional Information

Copyright 2005 by the American Geophysical Union. Received: 16 July 2004; Revised: 28 February 2005; Accepted: 14 March 2005; Published: 19 July 2005. We thank Nami Kitchen and Irma Appora for their assistance with laboratory work over the course of this project. We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of National Science Foundation grant OCE-0112132 to J.M.E. and the insightful comments on parts of this work provided by participants in the 2003 SOTA conference. This paper benefited from insightful reviews by Terry Plank and one anonymous reviewer and from the helpful comments of the editor, Bill White.

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