- © 2016 Mineralogical Society of America
Terrestrial magmatism is dominated by basaltic compositions. This definition encompasses mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB), which account for more than eighty percent of Earth’s volcanic products and which are formed at divergent oceanic plate margins, as well as intraplate volcanic rocks such as ocean island basalts (OIB), continental flood basalts (CFB) and continental rift-related basalts, and highly magnesian ultramafic volcanic rocks that dominantly occur in Archean terranes, termed komatiites. All of these broadly basaltic rocks are considered to form by partial melting of the upper mantle, followed by extraction from their source regions and emplacement at the Earth’s surface. For these reasons, basalts can be used to examine the nature and extent of partial melting in the mantle, the compositions of mantle sources, and the interactions between the crust and mantle. Because much of Earth’s mantle is inaccessible, basalts offer some of the best ‘proxies’ for examining mantle composition, mantle convection and crust–mantle interactions. By contrast, at arcs, volcanism is dominated by andesitic rock compositions. While some arcs do have basaltic and picritic magmatism, these magma types are rare in convergent plate margin settings and reflect the complex fractional crystallization and often associated concomitant assimilation processes occurring in arcs. Despite the limited occurrence of high MgO magmas in arc volcanic rocks, magmas from this tectonic setting are also important for elucidating the behavior of the HSE from creation of basaltic compositions at mid-ocean ridges to the subduction of this crust beneath arcs at convergent plate margins.
The highly siderophile elements (HSE; comprising Re and Au, along with the six platinum-group elements [PGE] Os, Ir, Ru, Rh, Pt, and Pd) combined with the 187Re–188Os and 190Pt–186Os systems that are embedded within these elements, have found significant utility in the study of basaltic rocks (e.g., Shirey and …