Chalcophile behavior of thallium during MORB melting and implications for the sulfur content of the mantle

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American Geophysical Union

We present new laser ablation ICP-MS trace element concentration data for 28 elements in 97 mid-ocean ridge basalt (MORB) glasses that cover all major spreading centers as well as Tl concentration data for all mineral phases in five lherzolites from the Lherz massif, France. The ratio between the elements thallium (Tl) and cerium (Ce) is nearly constant in MORB, providing evidence that the depleted MORB mantle (DMM) has uniform Ce/Tl. Lherzolite mineral data reveal that sulfides are heterogeneous and contain between 23 and 430 ng/g of Tl while all other minerals contain Tl below the analytical detection limit of ∼1 ng/g. We argue that Tl in MORB is controlled by residual sulfide during mantle melting. To investigate the observed relationship between Tl and Ce, we conduct models of fractional mantle melting, which show that the constant Ce/Tl in MORB is only reproduced if the ratio between clinopyroxene and sulfide in the upper mantle varies by less than 10%. In addition, the rate of melting for these two phases must be nearly identical as otherwise melt depletion and refertilization processes would lead to Ce/Tl fractionation. These model results allow us to establish a relationship for the sulfur content of DMM: [S]DMM = SCSS × Mcpx /Rcpx, where SCSS is the sulfur concentration of a silicate melt at sulfide saturation, Rcpx is the melt reaction coefficient, and Mcpx is the modal abundance of clinopyroxene in the DMM. Using this equation, we calculate that the average upper mantle sulfur concentration is 195 ± 45 μg/g.

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Nielsen, Sune G., Shimizu, Nobumichi, Lee, Cin-Ty A., et al.. "Chalcophile behavior of thallium during MORB melting and implications for the sulfur content of the mantle." Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 15, no. 12 (2014) American Geophysical Union: 4905-4919.

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