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    Progress in Earth and Planetary Science

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    Solid earth sciences


    Lithological structure of western Pacific lithosphere reconstructed from mantle xenoliths in a petit-spot volcano

    Mikuni K, Hirano N, Akizawa N, Yamamoto J, Machida S, Tamura A, Hagiwara Y, Morishita T

    Petit-spot, Lithosphere, Pacific plate, Mantle xenolith, Metasomatism, Melt–rock interaction

    Schematic model of the Pacific lithosphere at 160 Ma. Petit-spot magma derived from asthenosphere stagnates once at the stress-rotation field in the middle-part of lithosphere where the melt-rock interaction occurs the fertile lithology. The residual peridotite exists at the uppermost lithospheric mantle as well.

    The lithospheric mantle, formed at the mid-ocean ridge as a residue of crustal production, comprises theoretically depleted peridotite, but more fertile components (e.g., lherzolite and pyroxenite) have been reported, creating an enigmatic picture of the lithosphere. The oceanic lithosphere has also been found to be locally modified by intraplate magmatism as proposed from geochemistry of mantle xenolith. Petit-spot xenoliths are particularly notable as direct evidence of old lithospheric mantle and expected to retain essential information about oceanic lithosphere prior to its subduction. In this study, we report on the lithological structure of Pacific lithosphere aged at 160 Ma, just subducting into Mariana Trench, based on petrology and chemistry of ultramafic xenoliths from a petit-spot knoll, and then, we suggest the occurrence of petit-spot melt infiltration resulting in mantle metasomatism and formation of pyroxene-rich vein. Our petit-spot ultramafic xenoliths can be divided into three main types: a depleted peridotite as a residue of crust production, an enriched peridotite, and fertile pyroxenites as the product of melt–rock interactions prior to entrapment. Geothermobarometry also suggests that the depleted peridotite was derived from the uppermost lithospheric mantle, whereas the enriched peridotite and Al-augite pyroxenites were obtained from deeper layers of the lithosphere. Moreover, thermal gradient of the lithosphere estimated from these data is considerably hotter than pristine geotherm estimated on the basis of plate age. Hence, we could illustrate that the oldest portion of the Pacific lithosphere (160 Ma), which was not observed before, was locally fertilized and heated by prior multiple petit-spot magmatic events, and pyroxene-rich metasomatic veins penetrated from the base to the middle/upper lithosphere. Such local lithospheric fertilization is plausible at the plate-bending field, and the nature of Pacific Plate subducting into Mariana Trench may be partly different from what has been assumed so far.