Degassing and contamination of noble gases in Mid-Atlantic Ridge basalts

P. Burnard, D. Harrison, G. Turner, R. Nesbitt

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    [1] New He, Ne, Ar and CO 2 stepped-crushing data from the Mid-Atlantic Ridge show that contamination of basalts by atmospheric noble gases involves three or more components: unfractionated air, fractionated air with high 36Ar/ 22Ne (≥45) and fractionated air with low 36Ar/ 22Ne (≥5). In addition, the magmatic noble gases trapped in these basaltic glasses are variably fractionated such that 4He/ 40Ar* (where the asterisk indicates corrected for atmospheric contamination based on all 36Ar being atmospheric in origin) is in the range 3-12. Single samples have a range in 4He/ 40Ar* with the highest ratios in the final crush steps, consistent with the most fractionated (highest 4He/ 40Ar*) volatiles trapped in the smallest vesicles. It is not possible to distinguish between batch and Rayleigh degassing mechanisms. The complexities of the contamination and magmatic fractionation processes means that it is not possible to estimate 40Ar/ 36Ar of the mantle source to these basalts other than it must be higher than the highest ratio measured (26,200 ±5200). Noble gas/CO 2 ratios are also variable. While some CO 2 adsorption during crushing exaggerates the variations in He/CO 2 and Ar/CO 2, we show that it is not possible to account for the entire variation as an analytical artefact: some of the variation is present in the vesicles. Variations in He/CO 2 cannot be attributed to solubility controlled degassing because of the broadly similar solubilities of He and CO 2 in tholeiitic magmas. The large range in He/CO 2 in these glasses (factor of 10) is not accompanied by indications of major changes in melting regime or source region chemistry, therefore is thought to reflect late-stage (magmatic) fractionation of CO 2 from the noble gases. It is not possible to identify an explicit mechanism, although both CO 2 reduction (e.g., to hydrocarbons or graphite) and kinetic CO 2-noble gas fractionation could account for the variations. © 2003 by the American Geophysical Union.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number1002
    JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2003


    • Argon
    • Basalt
    • Carbon dioxide
    • Degassing
    • Helium
    • Mid-ocean ridge


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