RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES VOL. 5, NO. 2, PAGES 101–123, doi:10.2205/2003ES000117, 2003

MAR volcanism in the Sierra Leone Fracture Zone region, Central Atlantic

S. G. Skolotnev, A. A. Peyve, and S. M. Lyapunov

Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

V. A. Simonov, Yu. E. Glazyrin, and V. Yu. Kolobov

Joint Institute of Geology, Geophysics, and Mining, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Novosibirsk, Russia


[1]  We have studied major and trace element (including REE) geochemistries of basalts and chilled basaltic glasses from the MAR axial zone in the vicinity of the Sierra Leone FZ (5o-7o10 prime N). The links of basalts of various compositions with particular ocean-floor geological structural features have been analyzed as well. Three basaltic varieties have been discriminated. Almost ubiquitous are high-Mg basalts that are derivatives of N-MORB tholeiitic melts and that are produced in the axial zone of spreading. Variety 2 is alkaline basalts widespread on the southwest flank of the MAR crestal zone in the Sierra Leone region, likely generated through deep mantle melting under plume impact. Variety 3 is basalts derivative from T- and P-MORB-like tholeiitic melts and originating through addition of a deeper mantle material to depleted upper mantle melts. Magma generation parameters, as calculated from chilled glass compositions, are different for depleted tholeiites (44-55 km, 1320-1370o C) and enriched tholeiites (45-78 km, 1330-1450o C). Mantle plume impact is shown to affect not only tholeiitic basalt compositions but also magma generation conditions in the axial spreading zone, resulting in higher Ti and Na concentrations in the melts parental to the rift-related basalts occurring near the plume. T- and P-MORBs are also developed near the areas where mantle plumes are localized. The high-Mg basalts are shown to come in several types with distinctive Ti and Na contents. Nearly every single MAR segment (bounded by sinistral strike slips and the Bogdanov FZ) is featured by its own basalt type suggesting that it has formed above an asthenospheric diapir with its unique magma generation conditions. These conditions are time variable. The likely causes of the temporal and spatial instability of mantle upwelling beneath this portion of the MAR are singular tectonic processes and plume activity. In the sulfide-bearing rift morphostructures (the so-called "Ore area'' and the Markov Basin), basalts make up highly evolved suites generated through olivine and plagioclase fractionation, which is suggestive of relatively long-lived magma chambers beneath the sulfide-bearing rift morphostructures. The functioning of these chambers is a combined effect of a singular geodynamic regime and plume activity. In these chambers, melts undergo deep differentiation leading to progressively increasing concentration of the sulfide phase, eventually to be supplied to the hydrothermal plumbing system.

Received 16 April 2003; published 3 June 2003.

Keywords: geochemistry of basalts, chilled basaltic glasses, Mid-Atlantic Ridge, MAR volcanism.

Citation: Skolotnev, S. G., A. A. Peyve, S. M. Lyapunov, V. A. Simonov, Yu. E. Glazyrin, and V. Yu. Kolobov (2003), MAR volcanism in the Sierra Leone Fracture Zone region, Central Atlantic, Russ. J. Earth Sci., 5, No.2, 101-123, doi:10.2205/2003ES000117.

Copyright 2003 by the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences
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