The Li isotopic composition of Oldoinyo Lengai: Nature of the mantle sources and lack of isotopic fractionation during carbonatite petrogenesis

Ralf Halama, William F. McDonough, Roberta L. Rudnick, Jörg Keller, Jurgis Klaudius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Lithium concentrations and Li isotope compositions are reported for natrocarbonatites and silicate lavas from Oldoinyo Lengai, Tanzania. Natrocarbonatites are characterized by very high Li contents (211-294 ppm) and a narrow range of δ7Li values between + 3.3 and + 5.1. These Li isotope compositions overlap with those reported for MORB and OIB and suggest that the natrocarbonatites reflect the Li isotopic composition of their mantle source. Co-genetic silicate lavas, covering a wide compositional spectrum, show no obvious isotopic fractionation as a function of igneous differentiation or liquid immiscibility. Primitive olivine melilitites (Mg# = 58-70), considered to be parental magmas, contain 14-23 ppm Li and have δ7Li values of + 2.4 to + 4.4. A highly differentiated, peralkaline nephelinite (Mg# = 12), likely to be related to the natrocarbonatites by liquid immiscibility, has about twice as much Li as the melilitite (57 ppm), but a similar isotopic composition (δ7Li = + 3). In contrast, a phonolite with 15 ppm Li has a lighter Li isotope composition (δ7Li = - 0.4), which may reflect assimilation of isotopically light lower crustal mafic granulites, a conclusion supported by radiogenic isotope data. Clinopyroxene and olivine separates from the silicate lavas have uniformly lower Li concentrations (3-15 ppm) and lower δ7Li values (δ7Li = - 2.9 to - 0.5) than the respective whole-rocks, with Δ7Liwhole-rock-mineral between 1.4 and 6.3. This difference between whole-rock and mineral data is interpreted to reflect diffusion-driven isotopic fractionation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-89
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume254
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Feb 15
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Carbonatites
  • Lithium isotopes
  • Mantle geochemistry
  • Oldoinyo Lengai

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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