Depths and temperatures of <10.5 Ma mantle melting and the lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary below southern Oregon and northern California

Christy B. Till, Timothy L. Grove, Richard W. Carlson, Julie M. Donnelly-Nolan, Matthew J. Fouch, Lara S. Wagner, William K. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Plagioclase and spinel lherzolite thermometry and barometry are applied to an extensive geochemical dataset of young (<10.5 Ma) primitive basaltic lavas from across Oregon's High Lava Plains, California's Modoc Plateau, and the central-southern Cascades volcanic arc to calculate the depths and temperatures of mantle melting. This study focuses on basalts with low pre-eruptive H 2O contents that are little fractionated near-primary melts of mantle peridotite (i.e., basalts thought to be products of anhydrous decompression mantle melting). Calculated minimum depths of nominally anhydrous melt extraction are 40-58 km below Oregon's High Lava Plains, 41-51 km below the Modoc Plateau, and 37-60 km below the central and southern Cascades arc. The calculated depths are very close to Moho depths as determined from a number of regional geophysical studies and suggest that the geophysical Moho and lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary in this region are located in very close proximity to one another (within 5-10 km). The basalts originated at 1185-1383°C and point to a generally warm mantle beneath this area but not one hot enough to obviously require a plume contribution. Our results, combined with a range of other geologic, geophysical, and geochemical constraints, are consistent with a regional model whereby anhydrous mantle melting over the last 10.5 Ma in a modern convergent margin and back arc was driven by subduction-induced corner flow in the mantle wedge, and to a lesser extent, toroidal flow around the southern edge of the subducting Juan de Fuca and Gorda plates, and crustal extension-related upwelling of the shallow mantle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)864-879
Number of pages16
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cascades arc
  • High Lava Plains
  • Modoc Plateau
  • depth of melting
  • high alumina olivine tholeiite
  • lithosphere-asthenosphere boundary
  • thermometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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