Submarine back-arc lava with arc signature: Fonualei Spreading Center, northeast Lau Basin, Tonga

Nicole S. Keller*, Richard J. Arculus, Jörg Hermann, Simon Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    81 Citations (Scopus)


    We present major, volatile, and trace elements for quenched glasses from the Fonualei Spreading Center, a nascent spreading system situated very close to the Tofua Volcanic Arc (20 km at the closest), in the northeast Lau Basin. The glasses are basalts and basaltic andesites and are inferred to have originated from a relatively hot and depleted mantle wedge. The Fonualei Spreading Center shows island arc basalt (IAB) affinities, indistinguishable from the Tofua Arc. Within the Fonualei Spreading Center no geochemical trends can be seen with depth to the slab and/or distance to the arc, despite a difference in depth to the slab of >50 km. Therefore we infer that all the subduction-related magmatism is captured by the back arc as the adjacent arc is shut off. There is a sharp contrast between the main spreading area of the Fonualei Spreading Center (FSC) and its northernmost termination, the Mangatolu Triple Junction (MTJ). The MTJ samples are characteristic back-arc basin basalts (BABB). Wepropose that the MTJ and FSC have different mantle sources, reflecting different mantle origins and/or different melting processes. We also document a decrease in mantle depletion from the south of the FSC to the MTJ, which is the opposite to what has been documented for the rest of the Lau Basin where depletion generally increases from south to north. We attribute this reverse trend to the influx of less depleted mantle through the tear between the Australian and the Pacific plates, at the northern boundary of the Lau Basin.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberB08S07
    JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 4 Aug 2008


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