Mantle Structure And Rifting Processes In The Baikal-Mongolia Region- Geophysical Data And Evidence From Xenoliths In Volcanic Rocks

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Journal Article: Mantle Structure And Rifting Processes In The Baikal-Mongolia Region- Geophysical Data And Evidence From Xenoliths In Volcanic Rocks

Abstract
The origin of the Baikal rift zone (BRZ) has been debated between the advocates of passive and active rifting since the 1970s. A re-assessment of the relevant geological and geophysical data from Russian and international literature questions the concept of broad asthenospheric upwelling beneath the rift zone that has been the cornerstone of many "active rifting" models. Results of a large number of early and recent studies favour the role of far-field forces in the opening and development of the BRZ. This study emphasises the data obtained through studies of peridotite and pyroxenite xenoliths brought to the surface by alkali basaltic magmas in southern Siberia and central Mongolia. These xenoliths are direct samples of the upper mantle in the vicinity of the BRZ. Of particular importance are suites of garnet-bearing xenoliths that have been used to construct P-T- composition lithospheric cross-sections in the region for the depth range of 35-80 km. Xenolith studies have shown fundamental differences in the composition and thermal regime between the lithospheric mantle beneath the ancient Siberian platform (sampled by kimberlites) and beneath younger mobile belts south of the platform. The uppermost mantle in southern Siberia and central Mongolia is much hotter at similar levels than the mantle in the Siberian craton and also has significantly higher contents of 'basaltic' major elements (Ca, Al, Na) and iron, higher Fe/Si and Fe/Mg. The combination of the moderately high geothermal gradient and the fertile compositions in the off-cratonic mantle appears to be a determining factor controlling differences in sub-Moho seismic velocities relative to the Siberian craton. Chemical and isotopic compositions of the off-cratonic xenoliths indicate small-scale and regional mantle heterogeneities attributed to various partial melting and enrichment events, consistent with long-term evolution in the lithospheric mantle. Age estimates of mantle events based on Os-Sr-Nd isotopic data can be correlated with major regional stages of crustal formation and may indicate long-term crust-mantle coupling. The ratios of 143/144Nd in many LREE-depleted xenoliths are higher than those in MORB or OIB source regions and are not consistent with a recent origin from asthenospheric mantle. Mantle xenoliths nearest to the rift basins (30-50 km south of southern Lake Baikal) show no unequivocal evidence for strong heating, unusual stress and deformation, solid state flow, magmatic activity or partial melting that could be indicative of an asthenospheric intrusion right below the Moho. Comparisons between xenoliths from older and younger volcanic rocks east of Lake Baikal, together with observations on phase transformations and mineral zoning in individual xenoliths, have indicated recent heating in portions of the lithospheric mantle that may be related to localised magmatic activity or small-scale ascent of deep mantle material. Overall, the petrographic, P-T, chemical and isotopic constraints from mantle xenoliths appear to be consistent with recent geophysical studies, which found no evidence for a large-scale asthenospheric upwarp beneath the rift, and lend support to passive rifting mechanism for the BRZ.

Author 
Dmitri Ionov








Published Journal 
Tectonophysics, 2002





DOI 
10.1016/S0040-1951(02)00124-5


 

Citation

Dmitri Ionov. 2002. Mantle Structure And Rifting Processes In The Baikal-Mongolia Region- Geophysical Data And Evidence From Xenoliths In Volcanic Rocks. Tectonophysics. (!) .