Factors controlling the noble gas abundance patterns of deep-sea basalts

  • Dymond J
  • Hogan L
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A number of processes may modify the noble gas composition of silicate liquids so that the composition of noble gases observed in glassy margins of deep-sea basalts is not that of the upper mantle. Differential solubility enhances the light noble gases relative to the heavier gases; however, we demonstrate that the observed abundance pattern cannot be attributed to solubility of noble gases with atmospheric proportions. Partial melting and fractional crystallization increase the noble gas content of all species relative to mantle concentrations, but do not fractionate their relative abundances. Noble gases may be lost from an ascending magma in various ways, the most important, however, may be exclusion of gas from crystals forming at the time of solidification, which is shown to result in marked loss of gas from the basalt. Small amounts of low-temperature alteration of solidified basalt can produce dramatic changes in the noble gas abundance pattern, since the adsorption coefficients for the different noble gas favor uptake of heavy species relative to the light species. Atmospheric contamination can account for observed variations in the 40Ar/36Ar ratio of oceanic basalts. The degree of crystallinity of glassy margins of deep-sea basalts may control the helium abundance of these samples; however, the uniform 3He/4He values reported apparently reflect a relatively constant proportion of radiogenic and primordial helium in the mantle. © 1978 Elsevier Scientific Publishing Company

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  • Jack Dymond

  • Lewis Hogan

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