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Ciro Cucciniello, Antonio Langone, Leone Melluso, Vincenzo Morra, John J. Mahoney, Thomas Meisel, and Massimo Tiepolo


U-Pb Ages, Pb-Os Isotope Ratios, and Platinum-Group Element (PGE) Composition of the West-Central Madagascar Flood Basalt Province


The Journal of Geology, 2010, volume 118, p. 523–541.

DOI: 10.1086/655012



The Mailaka lava succession (central-western Madagascar) forms part of the Madagascar large igneous province and is characterized by basaltic to picritic basalt lava flows and minor evolved flows. In situ U-Pb dating of zircon in rhyodacites yields concordant ages of 89.7±1.4 and 90.7±1.1 Ma. Therefore, the capping rhyodacitic unit of the Mailaka lava succession was emplaced just after the underlying basalt sequence (dated paleontologically at Coniacian-Turonian). Two geochemically different lava series are present. A transitional series ranging from picritic basalts to basalts has incompatible element abundances and Pb, Os, and Nd isotope ratios within the range of mid-ocean ridge basalts. In addition, the concentrations of platinum-group elements (Ir< 0.35 ng/g, Ru<0.17 ng/g Pd 1.0-1.6 ng/g) in the transitional basalts are generally lower than in basaltic lavas from oceanic plateaus (e.g., Ontong Java and Kerguelen) and other continental flood basalt provinces (e.g., Deccan and Etendeka). A tholeiitic series ranges from picritic basalts to rhyodacites and has relatively high concentrations of trace elements (e.g., Rb, Ba, Th, and light lanthanides) and the Pb-Sr-Nd and Os isotopic characteristic of magmas that have assimilated continental crust. The Pb isotope ratios of tholeiitic andesites indicate the involvement of a component highly depleted in radiogenic Pb, very likely old lower crust. Energy-constrained-assimilation-fractional-crystallization modeling indicates that the rhyodacites may be the result of ∼25% assimilation of upper continental crust, with a ratio between assimilated mass and subtracted solid of ∼0.35. An andesite with low Pb isotope ratios may be the result of ∼8% assimilation of lower continental crust with a mass assimilated/mass accumulated ratio of ∼0.1. Interaction of mantle-derived magmas with crustal lithologies of different age and evolutionary history thus occurred in this sector of the flood basalt province. Contamination of mantle-derived rocks by material of different crustal domains is a process also observed in other large igneous provinces, such as the Deccan Traps.