Lavas erupted behind the volcanic front in southeastern Guatemala have many important distinctions from lavas erupted on the volcanic front. These include: generally higher MgO, Nb, Sr, TiO2, and rare earth element concentrations; higher La/Yb and Nb/Y ratios; and lower Ba/La, La/Nb, Ba/Zr and Zr/Nb ratios. These major and trace element distinctions are caused by reduced fractionation during ascent and storage in the crust, lower degrees of melting in the source, and greatly reduced contributions from the subducted Cocos plate in the source. In addition, because all of these important distinctions are even borne in lavas erupted within 20 km of the front, there is little apparent petrogenetic continuity between front and behind-the-front magmas. What little geochemical continuity exists is in radiogenic isotopes: 143Nd/144Nd falls across the arc, Pb isotopic ratios (except 206Pb/204Pb) rise across the arc, and 87Sr/86Sr rise across the arc after an initial discontinuity within 20 km of the front. These continuous across-arc changes in radiogenic isotopes are caused by increased contamination with older, more isotopically disparate rocks, away from the front. Once the effects of crustal contamination are removed, the remaining isotopic variability behind the front is non-systematic and reflects the inherent isotopic heterogeneity of the source, the mantle wedge. Geochemical disconnection in southeastern Guatemala suggests that behind-the-front magmas are produced by decompression melting near the top of the wedge, not by flux-dominated melting near the base of the wedge.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geochemistry and Petrology