Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


Document Type


Date of this Version



Lithos 332–333 (2019) 226–244.


Used by permission.


Geochemically enriched signatures in global oceanic basalts have long indicated a heterogeneous mantle source, but the role of lithologic heterogeneity in producing mantle partial melts, particularly fertile pyroxenite rocks, remains unclear. Uranium-series disequilibria in basalts are particularly sensitive to the increased garnet mode and melting rates of pyroxenite rocks, making the system a useful indicator of mantle lithologic heterogeneity in the melt region for oceanic basalts. Here we summarize evidence for the presence and importance of pyroxenite rocks in the upper mantle and their role in melt generation of mid-ocean ridge basalts and ocean island basalts, with a synthesis of U-series disequilibrium systematics in oceanic basalts and implications for global lithologic heterogeneity of the upper mantle. We further synthesize the melt modeling approaches for the interpretation of U-series disequilibria in basalts and demonstrate the use of numerical solution models for time-dependent reactive porous flow and dynamic melting during decompression of a two-lithology mantle in thermal equilibrium. Our model outcomes corroborate prior interpretations in favor of reactive porous flow and two-porosity transport for relatively homogeneous, peridotite-dominated mantle regimes, and further support contributions of pyroxenite partial melts to aggregated melts in order to reproduce the heterogeneous global basalt data. To most accurately predict the conditions of melting by comparison with measured data, two-lithology melting calculations should carefully consider the role of thermal equilibrium, mineral/melt partitioning, non-linear variations in mineral modes, and degree of melting during the melting process.