Istituto di Scienze Marine     
Cipriani A., Bonatti E., Brunelli D., Ligi M. 26 million years of mantle upwelling below a segment of the Mid Atlantic Ridge: The Vema Lithospheric Section revisited. In: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol. 285 (1-2) pp. 87 - 95. ELSEVIER SCIENCE BV, PO BOX 211, 1000 AE AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS, 2009.
Temporal variations of temperature and composition of the mantle upwelling below a 80-km long segment of the Mid Atlantic Ridge were reconstructed from 20 to 4 Ma ago from peridotites sampled along a >300-km long section of oceanic lithosphere (Vema Lithospheric Section or VLS) exposed south of the Vema transform at 11 degrees N [Bonatti, E., Ligi, M., Brunelli, D., Cipriani, A., Fabretti, P., Ferrante, V., Gasperini, L., Ottolini, L., 2003. Mantle thermal pulses below the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and temporal variation in the formation of oceanic lithosphere, Nature, 423, 499-505]. We extended this time interval from 26 to 2 Ma by sampling mantle ultramafics at 18 new sites along the VLS. Peridotite orthopyroxene, clinopyroxene and spinel chemistry suggest a weak trend of decreasing extent of melting of the mantle from 26 to 18.5 Ma ago with superimposed short-wavelength (similar to 4 Ma) oscillations followed by a steady increase of degree of melting from 18.5 to 2 Ma ago, with superimposed 3-4 Ma oscillations. Temporal variations of crustal thickness inferred from the Residual Mantle Bouguer Anomaly calculated from gravity data reveal similar trends. The older (26 to 18.5 Ma) and the younger (18.5 to 2 Ma) mantle suites differ in cpx Na2O content and CaO/Al2O3 ratio, suggesting that not only the thermal regime, but also the composition of the mantle source might have been different in the two suites. The two trends are separated by a similar to 1.4 Ma-long stretch (from 18.2 to 16.8 Ma) where deformed ultramafic mylonites prevail, indicating probably an interval of nearly a-magmatic lithospheric emplacement at ridge axis, corresponding to a thermal minimum. Spatially offset correlation along the VLS of crustal thickness (i.e., quantity of basaltic melt released by the mantle) and mantle peridotite degree of melting led to an estimate of similar to 16.1 mm/a for the solid mantle average velocity of upwelling, a value close to the average half spreading rate for the 26 Ma interval covered by the VLS. However, peridotite clinopyroxene geothermometry shows oscillations superimposed on a decreasing trend of calculated equilibration temperature from 26 to 18.5 Ma ago, followed by a steady increase from 16 to 4 Ma ago, suggesting that the solid mantle upwelling velocity varied through time. These results hint at the existence of similar to 10-20 Ma cycles in the activity of the northern Mid Atlantic Ridge. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
DOI: 10.1016/j.epsl.2009.05.046
Subject mid ocean ridge
oceanic lithosphere
abyssal peridotite
partial melting
partial melting
crustal thickness
mantle upwelling velocity

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