226Ra–230Th–238U disequilibria of historical Kilauea lavas (1790–1982) and the dynamics of mantle melting within the Hawaiian plume

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  • 226Ra^230Th^238U disequilibria of historical Kilauea lavas(1790^1982) and the dynamics of mantle melting within the

    Hawaiian plume

    Aaron J. Pietruszka *, Kenneth H. Rubin, Michael O. GarciaHawaii Center for Volcanology, Department of Geology and Geophysics, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA

    Received 13 January 2000; accepted 3 January 2001

    Abstract

    The geochemical variations of Kilaueas historical summit lavas (1790^1982) document a rapid fluctuation in themantle source and melting history of this volcano. These lavas span nearly the entire known range of sourcecomposition for Kilauea in only 200 yr and record a factor ofV2 change in the degree of partial melting. In this study,we use high-precision measurements of the U-series isotope abundances of Kilaueas historical summit lavas and twoingrowth models (dynamic and equilibrium percolation melting) to focus on the process of melt generation at thisvolcano. Our results show that the 226Ra^230Th^238U disequilibria of these lavas have remained relatively small andconstant withV12 4% excess 226Ra andV2.5 1.6% excess 230Th (both are 2c). Model calculations based mostlyon subtle variations in the 230Th^238U disequilibria suggest that lavas from the 19th to early 20th centuries formed atsignificantly higher rates of mantle melting and upwelling (up to a factor ofV10) compared to lavas from 1790 and thelate 20th century. The shift to higher values for these parameters correlates with a short-term decrease in the size of themelting region sampled by the volcano, which is consistent with fluid dynamical models that predict an exponentialincrease in the upwelling rate (and, thus, the melting rate) towards the core of the Hawaiian plume. The Pb, Sr, and Ndisotope ratios of lavas derived from the smallest source volumes correspond to the Kilauea end member of Hawaiianvolcanoes, whereas lavas derived from the largest source volumes overlap isotopically with recent Loihi tholeiiticbasalts. This behavior probably arises from the more effective blending of small-scale source heterogeneities as themelting region sampled by Kilauea increases in size. The source that was preferentially tapped during the early 20thcentury (when the melt fractions were lowest) is more chemically and isotopically depleted than the source of the early19th and late 20th century lavas (which formed by the highest melt fractions). This inverse relationship between themagnitude of source depletion and melt fraction suggests that source fertility (i.e. lithology) controls the degree ofpartial melting at Kilauea. Thus, rapid changes in the size of the melting region sampled by the volcano (in the presenceof these small-scale heterogeneities) may regulate most of the source- and melting-related geochemical variationsobserved at Kilauea over time scales of decades to centuries. 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

    Keywords: Kilauea; volcanoes; Hawaii; lavas; geochemistry; uranium; isotopes; mantle plumes; melting; models

    0012-821X / 01 / $ ^ see front matter 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.PII: S 0 0 1 2 - 8 2 1 X ( 0 1 ) 0 0 2 3 0 - 8

    * Corresponding author. Present address: Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, 5241 BroadBranch Road, N.W., Washington, DC 20015, USA. Tel. : +1-202-478-8476; E-mail : pietrus@dtm.ciw.edu

    EPSL 5747 22-2-01

    Earth and Planetary Science Letters 186 (2001) 15^31

    www.elsevier.com/locate/epsl

  • 1. Introduction

    Historical lavas from active Hawaiian shieldvolcanoes such as Kilauea and Mauna Loa areideal for investigating mantle melting becausethey display systematic melting-related variationsof incompatible trace element ratios (e.g. La/Ybor Nb/Y) over short periods of time (years todecades [1^4]). Models based on these uctuationsin lava chemistry suggest that the degree of partialmelting has varied by a factor of V2 for Kilaueasince 1790 [3] and V40% relative for Mauna Loasince 1843 [2], which are signicant portions ofthe overall range inferred for Hawaiian shield vol-canoes (a factor of V2.5 [5]). The origin of theseshort-term changes in the degree of partial melt-ing is poorly understood, but may be related tothe interplay between mantle melting and small-scale source heterogeneities [2,3]. A similar pat-tern of rapid, source- and melting-related geo-chemical variations has also been observed instratigraphic sections of prehistorical shield lavasfrom Hawaiian volcanoes (e.g. Mauna Loa [6]and Mauna Kea [7,8]). Thus, a detailed geochem-ical sampling of lavas over time scales of decadesto centuries may provide the best clues to under-standing the dynamics of mantle melting withinthe Hawaiian plume.

    The U-series isotope abundances of lavas (e.g.230Th and 226Ra) are excellent tracers of mantlemelting because the half-lives of 230Th and 226Ra(V75 kyr and 1600 yr, respectively) are thoughtto be similar to the time scale of magmatic pro-cesses (e.g. [9]). This unique feature of U-seriesisotopes oers the potential to study both the na-ture and timing of the processes that fractionateincompatible trace elements during magma gene-sis. This possibility derives from two importantproperties of the 238U decay chain. First, priorto melting, the source regions of basaltic lavaswill generally be in a state of radioactive, or sec-ular, equilibrium in which the 238U, 230Th, and226Ra activities (decay rates) are equal. When sec-ular equilibrium prevails, the (230Th/238U) and(226Ra/230Th) ratios (parentheses indicate activ-ities) of the source are known (and equal tounity), in contrast to most other geochemical trac-ers of the melting process (e.g. stable, incompat-

    ible trace elements). Second, any process thatfractionates these elements, such as partial melt-ing of the mantle, induces a state of radioactivedisequilibrium in which the activities of 238U,

    Fig. 1. Summary of the melting, source, and eruptive historyof Kilauea Volcano. Kilaueas historical lavas record a rapiductuation in the degree of partial melting (inferred from in-compatible trace elements) that correlates with the volcanoseruption rate (and, presumably, its magma supply rate). Thecomposition of the mantle source region tapped by Kilauea(or proportions of the source components) has also changedover time (shown as a % of the early 20th century sourcecomposition, which corresponds to the Kilauea isotopic endmember for Hawaiian volcanoes). The vertical shaded linesmark the explosive summit eruptions of 1790 and 1924. See[3] for the methods and/or references used to calculate eachof these parameters. The average melt fraction and sourcecomposition for the Mauna Ulu rift zone lavas are estimatedusing data from [1] and unpublished Pb isotope analyses (A.Hofmann, personal communication, 1999). The sample sym-bols are grouped according to eruption date: up triangles(1790), circles (1820^1921), diamonds (1929^1954), squares(1961^1982), left triangles (Mauna Ulu), and right triangles(Puu Oo).

    EPSL 5747 22-2-01

    A.J. Pietruszka et al. / Earth and Planetary Science Letters 186 (2001) 15^3116

  • Tab

    le1

    Th,

    U,

    Ba,

    Sran

    d22

    6R

    aab

    unda

    nces

    ,U

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    ies

    isot

    ope

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    vity

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    and

    Sris

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    era

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    for

    the

    hist

    oric

    alsu

    mm

    itla

    vas

    ofK

    ilaue

    aV

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    no

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    ple

    Eru

    ptio

    nda

    te[T

    h][U

    ][B

    a][S

    r][2

    26R

    a](2

    30T

    h/23

    2T

    h)(2

    30T

    h/23

    8U

    )(2

    26R

    a/23

    0T

    h)0

    (234

    U/2

    38U

    )87

    Sr/8

    6Sr

    (Wg

    g31)

    (Wg

    g31)

    (Wg

    g31)

    (Wg

    g31)

    (fg

    g31)

    1790

    -117

    900.

    6960

    0.23

    4479

    .67

    278.

    692

    .0

    0.7

    1.04

    9

    0.01

    11.

    022

    1.14

    71.

    003

    0.

    004

    0.70

    3612

    91.4

    0.

    61.

    040

    0.

    011

    1820

    -118

    20^1

    823

    0.78

    120.

    2641

    98.3

    431

    0.6

    98.6

    0.

    61.

    041

    0.

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    1.01

    41.

    103

    1.00

    3

    0.00

    30.

    7036

    3899

    .4

    0.8

    1.03

    9

    0.01

    118

    6618

    661.

    156

    0.39

    6914

    1.7

    382.

    40.

    7035

    4818

    94-2

    (gro

    undm

    ass)

    1894

    1.13

    30.

    3931

    144.

    238

    5.1

    162.

    7

    1.0

    1.06

    7

    0.01

    61.

    020

    1.21

    21.

    004

    0.

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    0.70

    3547

    1.08

    2

    0.00

    918

    94-2

    (gla

    ss)

    1894

    1.20

    10.

    4135

    146.

    038

    2.6

    0.70

    3548

    95-T

    AJ-

    319

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    0.43

    9914

    4.3

    398.

    20.

    7035

    3619

    1719

    171.

    206

    0.42

    4313

    2.5

    397.

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    2.8

    1.

    81.

    093

    0.

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    1.02

    41.

    114

    1.01

    3

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    7034

    91K

    il191

    919

    191.

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    0.42

    7913

    5.0

    401.

    516

    7.4

    1.

    31.

    085

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    1.02

    31.

    129

    1.00

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    20.

    7034

    7116

    5.0

    0.

    819

    2919

    291.

    306

    0.42

    8914

    6.5

    392.

    517

    1.3

    2.

    51.

    035

    0.

    010

    1.04

    21.

    131

    1.00

    5