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Chin, EJ.  2018.  Deep crustal cumulates reflect patterns of continental rift volcanism beneath Tanzania. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology. 173   10.1007/s00410-018-1512-z   AbstractWebsite

Magmatism on Earth is most abundantly expressed by surface volcanic activity, but all volcanism has roots deep in the crust, lithosphere, and mantle. Intraplate magmatism, in particular, has remained enigmatic as the plate tectonic paradigm cannot easily explain phenomena such as large flood basalt provinces and lithospheric rupture within continental interiors. Here, I explore the role of deep crustal magmatic processes and their connection to continental rift volcanism as recorded in deep crustal xenoliths from northern Tanzania. The xenoliths are interpreted as magmatic cumulates related to Cenozoic rift volcanism, based on their undeformed, cumulate textures and whole-rock compositions distinct from melt-reacted peridotites. The cumulates define linear trends in terms of whole-rock major elements and mineralogically, can be represented as mixtures of olivine+clinopyroxene. AlphaMELTS modeling of geologically plausible parental melts shows that the end-member cumulates, clinopyroxenite and Fe-rich dunite, require fractionation from two distinct melts: a strongly diopside-normative melt and a fractionated picritic melt, respectively. The former can be linked to the earliest, strongly silica-undersaturated rift lavas sourced from melting of metasomatized lithosphere, whereas the latter is linked to the increasing contribution from the upwelling asthenospheric plume beneath East Africa. Thus, deep crustal cumulate systematics reflect temporal and compositional trends in rift volcanism, and show that mixing, required by the geochemistry of many rift lava suites, is also mirrored in the lavas' cumulates.

Lee, CTA, Luffi P, Chin EJ.  2011.  Building and Destroying Continental Mantle. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Vol 39. 39:59-90.   10.1146/annurev-earth-040610-133505   AbstractWebsite

Continents, especially their Archean cores, are underlain by thick thermal boundary layers that have been largely isolated from the convecting mantle over billion-year timescales, far exceeding the life span of oceanic thermal boundary layers. This longevity is promoted by the fact that continents are underlain by highly melt-depleted peridotites, which result in a chemically distinct boundary layer that is intrinsically buoyant and strong (owing to dehydration). This chemical boundary layer counteracts the destabilizing effect of the cold thermal state of continents. The compositions of cratonic peridotites require formation at shallower depths than they currently reside, suggesting that the building blocks of continents formed in oceanic or arc environments and became "continental" after significant thickening or underthrusting. Continents are difficult to destroy, but refertilization and rehydration of continental mantle by the passage of melts can nullify the unique stabilizing composition of continents.