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Helium solubility in olivine and implications for high ³He/⁴He in ocean island basalts

Parman, S.W; Kurz, M.D; Hart, S.R; Grove, T.L


S.W Parman

M.D Kurz

S.R Hart

T.L Grove


High 3He/4He ratios found in ocean island basalts are the main evidence for the existence of an undegassed mantle reservoir1, 2, 3. However, models of helium isotope evolution depend critically on the chemical behaviour of helium during mantle melting. It is generally assumed that helium is strongly enriched in mantle melts relative to uranium and thorium, yet estimates of helium partitioning in mantle minerals have produced conflicting results4, 5, 6. Here we present experimental measurements of helium solubility in olivine at atmospheric pressure. Natural and synthetic olivines were equilibrated with a 50% helium atmosphere and analysed by crushing in vacuo followed by melting, and yield a minimum olivine–melt partition coefficient of 0.0025 0.0005 (s.d.) and a maximum of 0.0060 0.0007 (s.d.). The results indicate that helium might be more compatible than uranium and thorium during mantle melting and that high 3He/4He ratios can be preserved in depleted residues of melting. A depleted source for high 3He/4He ocean island basalts would resolve the apparent discrepancy7 in the relative helium concentrations of ocean island and mid-ocean-ridge basalts.


Parman, S., Kurz, M., Hart, S., & Grove, T. (2005). Helium solubility in olivine and implications for high ³He/⁴He in ocean island basalts. Nature, 437, 1140-1143.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date 2005-10
Deposit Date Feb 14, 2007
Journal Nature
Print ISSN 0028-0836
Electronic ISSN 1476-4687
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 437
Pages 1140-1143