The Nb/U and Th/U of the primitive mantle are 34 and 4.04 respectively, which compare with 9.7 and 3.96 for the continental crust. Extraction of continental crust from the mantle therefore has a profound influence on its Nb/U but little influence on its Th/U. Conversely, extraction of midocean ridge-type basalts lowers the Th/U of the mantle residue but has little influence on its Nb/U. As a consequence, variations in Th/U and Nb/U with Sm/Nd can be used to evaluate the relative importance of...[Show more] continental and basaltic crust extraction in the formation of the depleted (Sm/Nd enriched) mantle reservoir. This study evaluates Nb/U, Th/U, and Sm/Nd variations in suites of komatiites, picrites, and their associated basalts, of various ages, to determine whether basalt and/or continental crust have been extracted from their source region. Emphasis is placed on komatiites and picrites because they formed at high degrees of partial melting and are expected to have Nb/U, Th/U, and Sm/Nd that are essentially the same as the mantle that melted to produce them. The results show that all of the studied suites, with the exception of the Barberton, have had both continental crust and basaltic crust extracted from their mantle source region. The high Sm/Nd of the Gorgona and Munro komatiites require the elevated ratios seen in these suites to be due primarily to extraction of basaltic crust from their source regions, whereas basaltic and continental crust extraction are of subequal importance in the source regions of the Yilgarn and Belingwe komatiites. The Sm/Nd of modern midocean ridge basalts lies above the crustal extraction curve on a plot of Sm/Nd against Nb/U, which requires the upper mantle to have had both basaltic and continental crust extracted from it. It is suggested that the extraction of the basaltic reservoir from the mantle occurs at midocean ridges and that the basaltic crust, together with its complementary depleted mantle residue, is subducted to the core-mantle boundary. When the two components reach thermal equilibrium with their surroundings, the lighter depleted component separates from the denser basaltic component. Both are eventually returned to the upper mantle, but the lighter depleted component has a shorter residence time in the lower mantle than the denser basaltic component. If the difference in the recycling times for the basaltic and depleted components is ∼1.0 to 1.5 Ga, a basaltic reservoir is created in the lower mantle, equivalent to the amount of basalt that is subducted in 1.0 to 1.5 Ga, and that reservoir is isolated from the upper mantle. It is this reservoir that is responsible for the Sm/Nd ratio of the upper mantle lying above the trend predicted by extraction of continental crust on the plot of Sm/Nd against Nb/U.
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