Dating post-Archean lithospheric mantle: Insights from Re-Os and Lu-Hf isotopic systematics of the Cameroon Volcanic Line peridotites

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Highly depleted Archean peridotites have proven very amenable to Re-Os model age dating. In contrast, due to the increasing heterogeneity of mantle Os isotope compositions with time, the Re-Os system has not been as effective in dating post-Archean peridotites. The timing of depletion and accretion of post-Archean lithospheric mantle around cratons is important to understand within the context of the evolution of the continents. In an attempt to precisely date post-Archean peridotite xenoliths, we present a study of the petrology, mineralogy and geochemistry, including whole-rock Re-Os isotopes, highly siderophile elements and clinopyroxene-orthopyroxene Sr-Nd-Hf isotopes of peridotite xenoliths from Lake Nyos in the Cameroon Volcanic Line (CVL). Eight Nyos peridotite xenoliths, all fresh spinel lherzolites, are characterized by low to moderate olivine Fo contents (88.9–91.2) and low spinel Cr# (8.4–19.3), together with moderate to high whole-rock Al2O3 contents (2.0–3.7%). These chemical characteristics indicate that they are mantle residues of a few percent to <20% partial melting. However, trace element patterns of both clinopyroxene and orthopyroxene are not a pristine reflection of melt depletion but instead show various extents of evidence of metasomatic enrichment. Some of the samples contain orthopyroxene with 143Nd/144Nd lower than its coexisting clinopyroxene, which is best explained by recent short-timescale alteration, most likely by infiltration of the host basalt. Because of these metasomatic effects, the Sr-Nd isotope systematics in pyroxenes cannot sufficiently reflect melt depletion signatures. Unlike Sr-Nd isotopes, the Lu-Hf isotope system is less sensitive to recent metasomatic overprinting. Given that orthopyroxene hosts up to 33% of the Lu and 14% of the Hf in the whole rock budget of these rocks and has 176Hf/177Hf similar to, or higher than, coexisting clinopyroxene, it is necessary to reconstruct a whole-rock Lu-Hf isochron in order to constrain the melt depletion age of peridotites. The reconstructed Nyos Lu-Hf isochron from ortho- and clinopyroxenes gives an age of 2.01 ± 0.18 Ga (1σ), and when olivine and spinel are considered, is 1.82 ± 0.14 Ga (1σ). Both ages are identical within error, and they are within error of the alumina-187Os/188Os pseudo-isochron ages (1.2–2.4 Ga) produced on the peridotites from Lake Nyos, consistent with their oldest rhenium depletion Os model ages (2.0 Ga). We conclude that the Nyos peridotites, and the lithospheric mantle that they represent, were formed at ∼2.0 Ga, indicating that the reconstructed whole-rock Lu-Hf isotope system can be a powerful radiometric dating tool that is complementary to and in some instances, more precise than the Re-Os isotope system in dating well-preserved post-Archean peridotites. The recognition of ∼2.0 Ga subcontinental lithospheric mantle (SCLM) in the Nyos area suggests that the Nyos region was assembled as a Paleoproterozoic block, or that it represents fragments of the SCLM from the nearby Paleoproterozoic domain juxtaposed through collisional emplacement during the Pan African Orogeny. With regards to the origin of the CVL, our data reveal that the Hf isotopic compositions of the Nyos peridotites are too radiogenic to be the main source of the CVL basalts.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta