Cenozoic volcanism on the Hangai Dome, Central Mongolia: geochemical evidence for changing melt sources and implications for mechanisms of melting

Hunt, A. C.; Parkinson, I. J.; Harris, N. B. W.; Barry, T. L.; Rogers, N. W. and Yondon, M. (2012). Cenozoic volcanism on the Hangai Dome, Central Mongolia: geochemical evidence for changing melt sources and implications for mechanisms of melting. Journal of Petrology, 53(9) pp. 1913–1942.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/petrology/egs038

Abstract

Cenozoic volcanism within Mongolia forms part of a large central Asian province of intra-plate magmatism. Numerous small-volume volcanic cones and alkali basalt lava flows have been formed since c. 30 Ma; from c. 12 Ma activity has been focused on the uplifted Hangai dome. A mechanism for melting beneath the dome has, however, thus far remained enigmatic. Some of the oldest basalts on the Hangai dome erupted at its centre at ∼6 Ma and their geochemistry suggests a garnet lherzolite source region at 90–100 km depth. These lavas have Pb isotope compositions similar to those of depleted Indian mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) (206Pb/204Pb = 17·822, 207Pb/204Pb = 15·482, 208Pb/204Pb = 37·767), which may be indicative of the involvement of ambient asthenospheric mantle in their petrogenesis. Younger basalts exhibit a gradual shift in isotopic composition towards a source that has less radiogenic Pb and more radiogenic Sr, evidenced by the eruption of lavas with 206Pb/204Pb = 16·991 and 87Sr/86Sr = 0·704704. The youngest lavas, dated as younger than ∼8 ka, have the highest K2O contents (up to 5·2 wt %) and are characterized by the most enriched trace-element signatures; they are interpreted to represent melting of a metasomatically altered sub-continental lithospheric mantle containing phlogopite. Concurrent with progressive melting of the lithosphere, melting appears to propagate outwards from the centre of the dome to its margins; by 0·7 Ma the marginal magmatism is interpreted to result from melting of a depleted MORB-source mantle component with a smaller contribution from the lithospheric mantle. The spatial and temporal variations in melting beneath the Hangai dome may be explained by either lithospheric delamination or the presence of a small-scale thermal anomaly in the upper mantle. Although it is not possible to distinguish between these models on the basis of geochemistry alone, the lack of a viable mechanism to generate small-scale upwelling lends support to a model involving delamination of the lithospheric mantle beneath the Hangai dome.

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