Lead isotope composition of Central American volcanoes: Influence of the Galapagos plume

Mark D. Feigenson, Michael J. Carr, Susan V. Maharaj, Scott Juliano, Louise L. Bolge

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Lead isotopic analyses of lavas from Central America, both along and behind the volcanic arc, help to clarify source components in the mantle wedge. Analysis of previous Pb isotopic data had implied that little or no marine sediment lead was added to the Central American source region, as all samples fell within the MORB field, in contrast to other information (e. g., Ba/La, 10Be, 87Sr/86Sr) that indicated a high subduction component. The data presented here include several analyses of local marine sediment, showing it to be exceptionally unradiogenic in Pb and thus permitting high sediment contributions to the mantle source region without significant changes in Pb isotopes. Combined Pb-Nd and Pb-Sr isotopic diagrams clearly illustrate the influence of crustal contamination for samples from Guatemala and Honduras, and of subducted sediment for all lavas of the volcanic front. Samples collected behind the volcanic front are derived from mixing between enriched and depleted mantle sources, and in central Costa Rica (extending to the back arc) overlap Pb, Sr and Nd isotope values for both Cocos Island and some components of the Galapagos hot spot. The restricted geographical occurrence of the enriched mantle signature in Central America, coupled with the persistence of the signal well into the back arc region, imply that these lavas are sampling Galapagos plume-influenced mantle. The presence of this plume component beneath southern Central America and extending to the northeast beneath the Caribbean confirms a Galapagos hot spot origin for this part of Caribbean Plate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ06001
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2004


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


  • Central America
  • Galapagos Plume
  • Geochemistry
  • Pb isotopes

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