On edge melting under the Colorado Plateau margin

Sean Rudzitis, Mary R. Reid, Janne Blichert-Toft

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Asthenosphere beneath the relatively thin lithosphere of the Basin and Range province appears to be juxtaposed in step-like fashion against the Colorado Plateau's thick lithospheric keel. Primary to near-primary basalts are found above this edge, in the San Francisco-Morman Mountain volcanic fields, north central Arizona, western USA. We show that at least two distinct peridotite-dominated mantle end-members contributed to the origin of the basalts. One has paired Nd and Hf isotopic characteristics that cluster near the mantle array and trace element patterns as expected for melts generated in the asthenosphere, possibly in the presence of garnet. The second has isotopic compositions displaced above the εHf - εNd mantle array which, together with its particular trace element characteristics, indicate contributions from hydrogenous sediments and/or melt (carbonatite or silicate)-related metasomatism. Melt equilibration temperatures obtained from Si- and Mg-thermobarometry are mostly 1340–1425°C and account for the effects of water (assumed to be 2 wt.%) and estimated CO2 (variable). Melt equilibration depths cluster at the inferred location of the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary at ∼70–75 km beneath the southwestern margin of the Colorado Plateau but scatter to somewhat greater values (∼100 km). Melt generation may have initiated in or below the garnet-spinel facies transition zone by edge-driven convection and continued as mantle and/or melts upwelled, assimilating and sometimes equilibrating with shallower contaminated mantle, until melts were finally extracted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2835-2854
Number of pages20
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016


  • Colorado Plateau
  • edge convection
  • lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary
  • mantle melting
  • thermobarometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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