Large volume recycling of oceanic lithosphere over short time scales: geochemical constraints from the Caribbean Large Igneous Province
Oceanic flood basalts are poorly understood, short-term expressions of highly increased heat flux and mass flow within the convecting mantle. The uniqueness of the Caribbean Large Igneous Province (CLIP, 92-74 Ma) with respect to other Cretaceous oceanic plateaus is its extensive sub-aerial exposures, providing an excellent basis to investigate the temporal and compositional relationships within a starting plume head. We present major element, trace element and initial Sr-Nd-Pb isotope composition of 40 extrusive rocks from the Caribbean Plateau, including onland sections in Costa Rica, Colombia and Curaçao as well as DSDP Sites in the Central Caribbean. Even though the lavas were erupted over an area of ∼3×10 6 km 2, the majority have strikingly uniform incompatible element patterns (La/Yb=0.96±0.16, n=64 out of 79 samples, 2σ) and initial Nd-Pb isotopic compositions (e.g. 143Nd/ 144Nd in=0.51291±3, ∊Ndi=7.3±0.6, 206Pb/ 204Pb in=18.86±0.12, n=54 out of 66, 2σ). Lavas with endmember compositions have only been sampled at the DSDP Sites, Gorgona Island (Colombia) and the 65-60 Ma accreted Quepos and Osa igneous complexes (Costa Rica) of the subsequent hotspot track. Despite the relatively uniform composition of most lavas, linear correlations exist between isotope ratios and between isotope and highly incompatible trace element ratios. The Sr-Nd-Pb isotope and trace element signatures of the chemically enriched lavas are compatible with derivation from recycled oceanic crust, while the depleted lavas are derived from a highly residual source. This source could represent either oceanic lithospheric mantle left after ocean crust formation or gabbros with interlayered ultramafic cumulates of the lower oceanic crust. High 3He/ 4He in olivines of enriched picrites at Quepos are ∼12 times higher than the atmospheric ratio suggesting that the enriched component may have once resided in the lower mantle. Evaluation of the Sm-Nd and U-Pb isotope systematics on isochron diagrams suggests that the age of separation of enriched and depleted components from the depleted MORB source mantle could have been ≤500 Ma before CLIP formation and interpreted to reflect the recycling time of the CLIP source. Mantle plume heads may provide a mechanism for transporting large volumes of possibly young recycled oceanic lithosphere residing in the lower mantle back into the shallow MORB source mantle.