Nb–Ta fractionation by partial melting at the titanite–rutile transition

Nb–Ta fractionation by partial melting at the titanite–rutile transition,10.1007/s00410-010-0520-4,Contributions To Mineralogy and Petrology,Timm John

Nb–Ta fractionation by partial melting at the titanite–rutile transition   (Citations: 5)
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During the evolution of the Earth, distinct geochemical reservoirs with different Nb/Ta ratios have developed. Archean granitoids of the tonalite–trondhjemite–granodiorite (TTG) suite, which represent the Earth’s early continental crust, show larger Nb/Ta variations than any other Earth reservoir. This implies that significant Nb–Ta fractionation must have occurred during early crust formation, while the underlying mechanism behind is still unclear. Here, we present a new model on how Nb may be fractionated from Ta during partial melting of subducted oceanic crust. Our data show that Nb/Ta ratios in melts derived from rutile- and titanite-bearing eclogite are largely controlled by the modal relative abundances of rutile and titanite in the source. High modal ratios of titanite over rutile generate melts with very high Nb/Ta (>60), whereas low modal titanite/rutile produces melts with much lower Nb/Ta (≤30). Very low Nb/Ta (<16) occur when all Ti-phases are consumed at very high degrees of melting. As the modal ratio of titanite to rutile is a function of pressure, the Nb/Ta of melts is a function of melting depth. Our new model helps to explain the extreme variation of Nb/Ta observed in many TTGs and thus how Nb and Ta were fractionated during the early evolution of the Earth. Furthermore, the model also indicates that simple one-stage melting models for mafic crust are not sufficient to explain the formation of TTGs.
Journal: Contributions To Mineralogy and Petrology - CONTRIB MINERAL PETROL , vol. 161, no. 1, pp. 35-45, 2011
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