Lead-isotopic signatures of basalts from the Columbia River Basalt Group of central Oregon, Washington, and western Idaho, and of the high-alumina olivine basalts from southeastern Oregon plot mostly in the field of Pb-isotopic data from volcanic rocks of the Cascade Range. In contrast to the mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORB), the Pb-isotopic data for several of the formations form small, tight clusters, and the Nd- and Sr-isotopic data show discrete variation between these basalt groups. Pseudoisochrons are not observed. A single model will account for the observed isotopic and trace-element data from samples from most of the Columbia River Basalt Group. This model calls for partial melting of the convecting oceanic-type mantle and mixing with, or contamination by, fluids derived from continental-derived sediments. It requires that crustal components are not only subducted along the trench, but that they are also transported in the low-velocity zone of the mantle at least 400 km behind the active volcanic arc into the back-arc environment represented by the Columbia Plateaus province.
Lead isotopes in the Saddle Mountains Basalt, the youngest formation, suggest that these magmas were formed by partial melting of a 2.6-b.y.-old subcontinental lithosphere that extends as far west as south-central Washington near Ice Harbor Dam. The source material for these flows is characterized by high Th/U, Th/Pb, Rb/Sr, and Nd/Sm ratios and light REE enrichment. An additional component, presumably granitic crust, is necessary to explain the Pb-isotopic data of the Umatilla and perhaps the Pomona Members of the Saddle Mountains Basalt. This contamination model is supported by published δ18O data and petrological interpretation. Published studies of basalts from the Deccan Traps, the Tasmanian dolerites, the Snake River Group, and the volcanics of the Yellowstone Plateau province also suggest that melting of old subcontinental lithosphere beneath the continental crust may be an important process in basalt genesis on a global scale.