Pb–Nd isotopic constraints on sedimentary input into the Lesser Antilles arc system - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Earth and Planetary Science Letters Year : 2008

Pb–Nd isotopic constraints on sedimentary input into the Lesser Antilles arc system


The Lesser Antilles arc is a particularly interesting island arc because it is presently very active, it is located perpendicular to the South American continent and its chemical and isotopic compositions display a strong north–south gradient. While the presence in the south of a thick pile of sedimentary material coming from the old South American continent has long been suspected to explain the geochemical gradient, previous studies failed to demonstrate unambiguously a direct link between the arc lava compositions and the subducted sediment compositions. Here, we present new Nd, Sm, Th, U and Pb concentrations and Nd–Pb isotopic data for over 60 sediments from three sites located in the fore arc region of the Lesser Antilles arc. New data for DSDP Site 543 drill core located east of Dominica Island complement the data published by White et al. [White, W.M., Dupré, B. and Vidal, P., 1985. Isotope and trace element geochemistry of sediments from the Barbados Ridge–Demerara Plain region, Atlantic Ocean. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 49: 1875–1886.] and confirm their relatively uniform isotopic compositions (i.e., 206Pb/204Pb between 19.13 and 19.53). In contrast, data obtained on DSDP Site 144 located further south, on the edge of the South American Rise and on sediments from Barbados Island are much more variable (206Pb/204Pb ranges from 18.81 to 27.69). The very radiogenic Pb isotopic compositions are found in a 60 m thick black shale unit, which has no age equivalent in the Site 543 drill core. We interpret the peculiar composition of the southern sediments as being due to two factors, (a) the proximity of the South American craton, which contributes coarse grain old detrital material that does not travel far from the continental shelf, and (b) the presence of older sediments including the thick black shale unit formed during Oceanic Anoxic events 2 and 3. The north–south isotopic change known along the Lesser Antilles arc can be explained by the observed geographical changes in the composition of the subducted sediments. About 1% contamination of the mantle wedge by Site 543 sediments explains the composition of the northern islands while up to 10% sediments like those of Site 144 is required in the source of the southern island lavas. The presence of black shales in the subducted pile provides a satisfactory explanation for the very low Δ8/4 values that characterize the Lesser Antilles arc.

Dates and versions

insu-00353695 , version 1 (16-01-2009)



M. Carpentier, Catherine Chauvel, N. Mattielli. Pb–Nd isotopic constraints on sedimentary input into the Lesser Antilles arc system. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 2008, 272 (1-2), pp.199 à 211. ⟨10.1016/j.epsl.2008.04.036⟩. ⟨insu-00353695⟩
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