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  1. Abstract

    Young mafic lavas from the East African Western Rift record melting of subcontinental lithospheric mantle that was metasomatically modified by multiple tectonic events. We report new isotope data from monogenetic cinder cones near Bufumbira, Uganda, in the Virunga Volcanic Field:87Sr/86Sr = 0.7059–0.7079,εNd = −6.5 to −1.3,εHf = −6.3 to +0.9,208Pb/204Pb = 40.1–40.7,207Pb/204Pb = 15.68–15.75, and206Pb/204Pb = 19.27–19.45. Olivine phenocrysts from the Bufumbira lavas have3He/4He = 6.0–7.4RA. The isotopic data, in conjunction with major and trace element systematics, indicate that primitive Bufumbira magmas are derived from two different metasomatized lithospheric source domains. Melts generated by lower degrees of melting record greater contributions from ∼1 to 2 Ga isotopically enriched garnet‐amphibole‐phlogopite pyroxenite veins within the lithosphere. As melting progresses, these vein melts become increasingly diluted by melts that originate near the lithosphere/asthenosphere boundary, shifting the isotopic compositions toward the common lithospheric mantle (CLM) proposed by Furman and Graham (1999, This ∼450–500 Ma source domain appears to underlie all Western Rift volcanic provinces and is characterized by87Sr/86Sr ∼ 0.705,εNd∼ 0,εHf∼ +1 to +3,206Pb/204Pb ∼ 19.0–19.2,208Pb/204Pb ∼ 39.7, and3He/4He ∼ 7RA. Basal portions of the dense subcontinental lithospheric mantle may become gravitationally unstable and founder into underlying warmer asthenosphere, exposing surfaces where melting of locally heterogeneous veins produces small‐volume, alkaline mafic melts. Mafic lavas from all Western Rift volcanic provinces record mixing between the CLM and locally variable metasomatized source domains, suggesting this style of melt generation is fundamental to the development of magma‐poor rifts.

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