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Thermal Structure of Eastern Australia's Upper Mantle and Its Relationship to Cenozoic Volcanic Activity and Dynamic Topography

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jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pSpatio‐temporal changes of upper mantle structure play a significant role in generating and maintaining surface topography. Although geophysical models of upper mantle structure have become increasingly refined, there is a paucity of geologic constraints with respect to its present‐day state and temporal evolution. Cenozoic intraplate volcanic rocks that crop out across eastern Australia provide a significant opportunity to quantify mantle conditions at the time of emplacement and to independently validate geophysical estimates. This volcanic activity is divided into two categories: age‐progressive provinces that are generated by the sub‐plate passage of mantle plumes and age‐independent provinces that could be generated by convective upwelling at lithospheric steps. In this study, we acquired and analyzed 78 samples from both types of provinces across Queensland. These samples were incorporated into a comprehensive database of Australian Cenozoic volcanism assembled from legacy analyses. We use geochemical modeling techniques to estimate mantle temperature and lithospheric thickness beneath each province. Our results suggest that melting occurred at depths ≤80 km across eastern Australia. Prior to, or coincident with, onset of volcanism, lithospheric thinning as well as dynamic support from shallow convective processes could have triggered uplift of the Eastern Highlands. Mantle temperatures are inferred to be ∼50–100°C hotter beneath age‐progressive provinces that demarcate passage of the Cosgrove mantle plume than beneath age‐independent provinces. Even though this plume initiated as one of the hottest recorded during Cenozoic times, it appears to have thermally waned with time. These results are consistent with xenolith thermobarometric and geophysical studies.</jats:p>


Funder: Geoscience Australia

Funder: Shell Global, Shell Exploration and Production Company; Id:


Australia, intraplate magmatism, dynamic topography, geochemistry, volcanism, lithosphere

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Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems

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American Geophysical Union (AGU)