Oceanic lithospheric mantle is generally interpreted as depleted mantle residue after mid-ocean ridge basalt extraction. Several models have suggested that metasomatic processes can refertilize portions of the lithospheric mantle before subduction. Here, we report mantle xenocrysts and xenoliths in petit-spot lavas that provide direct evidence that the lower oceanic lithosphere is affected by metasomatic processes. We find a chemical similarity between clinopyroxene observed in petit-spot mantle xenoliths and clinopyroxene from melt-metasomatized garnet or spinel peridotites, which are sampled by kimberlites and intracontinental basalts respectively. We suggest that extensional stresses in oceanic lithosphere, such as plate bending in front of subduction zones, allow low-degree melts from the seismic low-velocity zone to percolate, interact and weaken the oceanic lithospheric mantle. Thus, metasomatism is not limited to mantle upwelling zones such as mid-ocean ridges or mantle plumes, but could be initiated by tectonic processes. Since plate flexure is a global mechanism in subduction zones, a significant portion of oceanic lithospheric mantle is likely to be metasomatized. Recycling of metasomatic domains into the convecting mantle is fundamental to understanding the generation of small-scale mantle isotopic and volatile heterogeneities sampled by oceanic island and mid-ocean ridge basalts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)