Source contamination versus assimilation: An example from the Trans-Mexican volcanic arc

John Chesley, Joaquin Ruiz, Kevin Righter, Luca Ferrari, Arturo Gomez-Tuena

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88 Scopus citations


Volcanic samples representing a wide range of lithologies and compositions were collected from the Miocene to Quaternary age Michoacan-Guanajuato volcanic field (MGVF) in the Trans-Mexican volcanic belt (TMVB). The samples were analyzed for major and trace elements, and 87Sr/86Sr and 187Os/188Os in an effort differentiate the importance of source contamination and assimilation in continental arc magmatism. Re concentrations in the MGVF samples range from 0.03 to 0.13 ppb and Os concentrations range from 0.05 to 0.001 ppb. The 87Sr/86Sr of the samples vary little, ranging from 0.7037 to 0.7047, despite a wide range in major element composition. However, the 187Os/188Os vary greatly, from 0.135 to 0.410. Decreasing Os concentration and increasing 187Os/188Os show a clear relation with indicators of fractionation such as MgO or Ni. A plot of 187Os/188Os versus Ba/Nb for all samples from the MGVF show two distinct trends: (1) a wide variation in Ba/Nb (50-200) associated with minor variations in 187Os/188Os (~0.135-0.145), and (2) increasing 187Os/188Os (0.145-0.40) associated with restricted Ba/Nb (35-70). These trends are best explained through a dynamic multi-component process. Fluids are released from the subducting slab, resulting in melting of the overlying asthenospheric wedge. The pristine fluids have high Ba and low Re and Os concentrations. The resulting melts have variable Ba/Nb, but unradiogenic 187Os/188Os. Superimposed upon these melts are both assimilation and fractional crystallization processes, which affect both the Ba/Nb and 187Os/188Os systems as they ascend into the lower crust.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)211-221
Number of pages11
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Assimilation
  • Island arcs
  • Metasomatism
  • Re/Os
  • Subduction
  • Volcanism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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