Petrology of the Easter Microplate Region in the South Pacific
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Submersible investigations along the East Rift segments, the Pito Deep and the Terevaka transform fault of the Easter microplate eastern boundary, and on a thrust-fault area of the Nazca Plate collected a variety of basalts and dolerites. The volcanics consist essentially of depleted (N-MORB), transitional (T-MORB) and enriched (E-MORB) basalts with low (0.01−0.1, < 0.7), intermediate (0.12–0.25, 0.7–1.2) and high (> 0.25, > 1.2–2) K/Ti and(La/Sm)N ratios, respectively. The Fe-Ti-rich ferrobasalt encountered among the N-MORBs are found on the Pito Deep Central volcano, on the Terevaka intra-transform ridge, on the ancient (< 2.5 Ma) Easter microplate (called EMP, comprising the East Rift Inner pseudofaults and Pito Deep west walls) and on thrust-fault crusts. The most enriched (T- and E-MORB) volcanics occur along the East Rift at 25 °50′–27 °S (called 26 °S East Rift) and on the Pito seamount located near the tip of the East Rift at 23 °00′–23 °40′S (called 23 °S East Rift). The diversity in incompatible element ratios of the basalts in relation to their structural setting suggests that the volcanics are derived from a similar heterogenous mantle which underwent variable degrees of partial melting and magma mixing. In addition the Pito seamount volcanics have undergone less crystal fractionation (< 20%) than the lavas from the other Easter microplate structures (up to 35–45%). The tectonic segmentation of the East Rift observed between 23 and 27 °S corresponds to petrological discontinuities related to Mg# variations and mantle melting conditions. The highest Mg# (> 61) are found on topographic highs (2000–2300 m) and lower values (Mg# < 56) at the extremities of the East Rift segments (2500–5600 m depths). The deepest area (5600 m) along the East Rift is located at 23 °S and coincides with a Central volcano constructed on the floor of the Pito Deep. Three major compositional variabilities of the volcanics are observed along the East Rift segments studied: (1) the 26 °S East Rift segment where the volcanics have intermediate Na8 (2.5–2.8%) and Fe8 (8.5–11%) contents; (2) the 23 °S East Rift segment (comprising Pito seamount and Pito Deep Central volcano) which shows the highest (2.9–3.4%) values of Na8 and a low (8–9%) Fe8 content; and (3) the 25 °S (at 24 °50′–26 °10′S) and the 24 °S (at 24 °10′–25 °S) East Rift segments where most of the volcanics have low to intermediate Na8 (2.6–2.0%) and a high range of Fe8 (9–13%) contents. When modeling mantle melting conditions, we observed a relative increase in the extent of partial melting and decreasing melting pressure. These localized trends are in agreement with a 3-D type diapiric upwelling in the sense postulated by Niu and Batiza (1993). Diapiric mantle upwelling and melting localized underneath the 26, 25 and 23 °S (Pito seamount and Central volcano) East Rift segments are responsable for the differences observed in the volcanics. The extent of partial melting varies from 14 to 19% in the lithosphere between 18 and 40 km deep as inferred from the calculated initial (Po=16kbar) and final melting (Pf=7kbar) pressures along the various East Rift segments. The lowest range of partial melting (14–16%) is confined to the volcanics from 23 °S East Rift segment including the Pito seamount and the Central volcano. The Thrust-fault area, and the Terevaka intra-transform show comparable mantle melting regimes to the 25 and 26 °S East Rift segments. The older lithosphere of the EMP interior is believed to have been the site of high partial melting (17–20%) confined to the deeper melting area (29–50 km). This increase in melting with increasing pressure is similar to the conditions encountered underneath the South East Pacific Rise (13–20 °S).
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Citation / Publisher Attribution
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 72, issue 3-4, p. 259-289
Scholar Commons Citation
Hekinian, R.; Francheteau, J.; Armijo, R.; Cogné, J. P.; Constantin, M.; Girardeau, J.; Hey, R.; Naar, D. F.; and Searle, R., "Petrology of the Easter Microplate Region in the South Pacific" (1996). Marine Science Faculty Publications. 2231.