Isotopic constraints on the influence of the Icelandic plume

Taylor, RN, Thirlwall MF, Murton BJ, Hilton DR, Gee MAM.  1997.  Isotopic constraints on the influence of the Icelandic plume. Earth and Planetary Science Letters. 148:E1-E8.

Date Published:



basalt, basalts, geochemical, helium, Iceland, isotopes, mantle plume, mid-atlantic ridge, nd, north-atlantic, plumes, reykjanes-ridge, sr, strontium, variation


Thermally buoyant mantle, in the form of a plume, rises beneath Iceland creating a major topographic anomaly along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and in the surrounding ocean basin. However, the influence of the Iceland plume on the composition of lavas erupted on adjacent ridges remains a contentious issue. Trace element systematics and radiogenic isotope ratios of Sr, Nd and Pb suggest that the plume influences a region 1200 km in length. In contrast, the He-3 anomaly associated with Iceland closely corresponds to the 2400 km ridge section affected by thermal uplift. We present evidence that the Sr, Nd and Pb isotope signature of the Iceland plume is in fact as widespread as its thermal and He-3 anomalies. Results imply that much of the source of North Atlantic ridge basalts has been contaminated by lateral outflow of asthenosphere from the Icelandic plume. Consequently, estimates of the average composition of mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) sources are likely to be biased by including data from plume-contaminated regions. True MORB values, and perhaps upper mantle geochemistry, can be constrained only by considering data untainted by plume asthenosphere.