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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences


Publication details for Dr Julie Prytulak

Nielsen, S. G., Prytulak, J., Blusztajn, J., Shu, Y., Auro, M., Regelous, M. & Walker, J. (2017). Thallium isotopes as tracers of recycled materials in subduction zones: Review and new data for lavas from Tonga-Kermadec and Central America. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 339: 23-40.

Author(s) from Durham


Sediment is actively being subducted in every convergent margin worldwide. Yet, geochemical data for arc lavas from several subduction zones, such as Northern Tonga and Costa Rica have revealed either attenuated or limited evidence for sediment in their mantle source regions. Here we use thallium (Tl) isotopes to trace slab components in lavas from the Tonga-Kermadec and Central American arcs. In general, both arcs display Tl isotope data that are most compatible with addition of sediment to the sub-arc mantle from the subducting slab. This evidence is particular strong in the Tonga-Kermadec arc where pelagic clays dominate the Tl budget along the entire arc. Contributions from altered oceanic crust as well as the Louisville Seamount chain that subducts underneath Northern Tonga are not visible in Tl isotopes, which is likely due to the very high Tl concentrations found in pelagic sediments outboard of the Tonga-Kermadec arc. Lavas from Central America reveal variable and systematic Tl isotope compositions along-strike. In particular, lavas from Nicaragua are dominated by contributions from sediments, whereas Costa Rican samples reveal a significant altered oceanic crust component with little influence from sediments on thallium isotope composition. The absence of a sediment signature in Costa Rica corresponds with the Cocos Ridge and the seamount province subduction, which results in a thinner sediment cover. Furthermore, the subducted sediment is dominated by carbonates with very low Tl concentrations and, therefore, small amounts of carbonate sediment added to the mantle wedge do not contribute significantly to the overall Tl budget.