Abstract

Mafic rocks erupted during late Cenozoic extension near Las Vegas, Nevada, show temporal patterns of variation in Nd and Sr isotope ratios and in bulk chemistry. The patterns indicate that depths of magma generation were varying through time and that lithospheric mantle was partially replaced with asthenospheric mantle as extension proceeded. In alkalic rocks, ϵNd changed through time from -9.1(typical of lithospheric mantle in this area) before the onset of major (16 Ma) extension to +6.4 (typical of asthenospheric mantle) after extension (4.6 Ma). Near the end of the period of major extension (10-6 Ma), tholeiitic rocks erupted, the ϵNd of which ranged from -10.1 to -7.9; this indicates that the lithosphere had not thinned sufficiently by that time to bring asthenospheric mantle into the depth range of tholeiitic magma generation (33-50 km). The lithosphere in the Las Vegas area appears to have thinned by about 50%than would be predicted by the magnitude of upper crustal extension (a factor of 3 or 4), and indicative of a nonuniform lithospheric response to extension.

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