The origin of the Tuzo Wilson Seamounts, 50 km south of the Queen Charlotte Islands, has been ascribed by various workers to either the Pratt–Welker mantle plume, which has formed the Pratt–Welker seamount chain, or the formation of a new segment of the Explorer–Juan de Fuca spreading ridge system. Abundances of major and trace elements in dredged alkali basalts from Tuzo Wilson and Bowie seamounts (360 km northwest of Tuzo Wilson Seamounts) are typical of alkaline volcanism on ocean islands associated with mantle plumes, but 87Sr/86Sr ratios (0.70252–0.70258) fall within the range of mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB) from the Explorer and Juan de Fuca ridges. Geochronological and chemical data from the Pratt–Welker, Bowie, and Tuzo Wilson seamounts suggest that the Tuzo Wilson Seamounts are in an early stage of development as a result of activity of the Pratt–Welker mantle plume but that contributions from both a depleted and an undepleted mantle source are necessary to reconcile trace-element and Sr isotope values. Modelling of rare-earth behaviour during partial melting indicates that neither the Tuzo Wilson nor Bowie basalts could be generated from a mantle source similar to that of the Explorer or Juan de Fuca MORB, unless recent metasomatism has enriched the seamounts' source region in incompatible elements.

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