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    The U, Th and Pb elemental and isotope compositions of mantle clinopyroxenes and their grain boundary contamination derived from leaching and digestion experiments

    Wittig, N. and Pearson, D.G. and Downes, Hilary and Baker, J.A. (2009) The U, Th and Pb elemental and isotope compositions of mantle clinopyroxenes and their grain boundary contamination derived from leaching and digestion experiments. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 73 (2), pp. 469-488. ISSN 0016-7037.

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    Minerals from peridotites are known to be affected by trace element contamination on their grain boundaries. In this contribution we investigate the extent and origin of exogenous contamination associated with mantle clinopyroxenes from various localities (Middle Atlas, Beni Bousera [Morocco], Pyrenean Massif, Massif Central [France]) and test the efficacy of different leaching methodologies used to remove this contamination. In doing so we present new U–Th–Pb (double-spike) isotope and trace elemental data of clinopyroxenes and their leachates from spinel-facies sub-continental lithospheric mantle (SCLM, n = 18). Sequential leaching and dissolution of one clinopyroxene separate shows that multiple and short leaching attacks with dilute HCl at moderate temperatures (e.g., 120 °C) interspersed with rigorous ultra-pure water washes do not induce elemental fractionation and are sufficient to remove grain-boundary contamination. Short attacks with very dilute mixtures of HF and HCl induced strong parent/daughter elemental fractionation and significant elemental loss prior to the clinopyroxene digestion with HF/HNO3. Such leaching is not suitable for studies investigating parent/daughter elemental or isotope ratios of mantle clinopyroxenes. Fluoride co-precipitates that formed in the presence of moderately dilute HF, used during leaching and typical HF/HNO3 digestions, are an important sink for all trace elements studied here and lock up at least 60% of the trace elements considered. A suite of clinopyroxene–leachate pairs from Moroccan peridotites confirm extreme grain-boundary contamination and show that up to 65% of U, 82% of Th and 91% of Pb, respectively, are of exogenous origin. Pb isotopes of all leachates considered and nearly all reconstructed unleached clinopyroxenes have highly positive Δ7/4 and 207Pb/204Pb–206Pb/204Pb systematics reminiscent of enriched mantle (particularly EM II), whereas the corresponding extensively leached clinopyroxenes have very different Pb isotope systematics (verified by replicate digestions). Furthermore, the leachates are often marked by remarkably high 232Th/238U (leachate much greater-than bulk silicate Earth) in addition to 238U/204Pb and 232Th/204Pb that are seemingly consistent with depleted mantle (DM) and high 238U/204Pb (HIMU) mantle mixing. After leaching, clinopyroxenes may have highly elevated 238U/204Pb and 232Th/204Pb that are distinct from typical DM- and HIMU mantle, whereas corresponding leachates bear strong resemblance to anthropogenic Pb recovered from rainwater, snow and aerosols. In the light of the great potential of Pb isotope contamination associated with mantle clinopyroxene we have compiled literature data of mantle peridotites. These data seem to suggest that the SCLM is nearly devoid of HIMU signatures but ostensibly represents an important repository for enriched mantle signatures. However, the dominance of enriched mantle is not verified when 87Sr/86Sr and 208Pb/204Pb ratios for the same database are considered. We highlight that the scarcity of HIMU-like SCLM and the alleged dominance of EM in continental roots may be reconciled if the current Pb isotope database of SCLM contains samples that were insufficiently leached prior to digestion and thus are contaminated by anthropogenic Pb. We stress the importance of replicate digestions, adequate leaching and leachate analysis to verify the U–Th–Pb elemental and isotope systematics of any given mantle (-derived) sample.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Science > School of Natural Sciences
    Depositing User: Administrator
    Date Deposited: 09 Feb 2011 11:08
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 16:51


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