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ISSN 0016-8521, Geotectonics, 2009, Vol. 43, No. 5, pp. 337–357. © Pleiades Publishing, Inc., 2009.

Original Russian Text © V.I. Kovalenko, V.V. Yarmolyuk, O.A. Bogatikov, 2009, published in Geotektonika, 2009, No. 5, pp. 3–24.

Geodynamic Setting of Recent Volcanism in North Eurasia

V. I. Kovalenko, V. V. Yarmolyuk, and O. A. Bogatikov
Institute of Geology of Ore Deposits, Petrography, Mineralogy, and Geochemistry, Russian Academy of Sciences,
35 Staromonetnyi per., Moscow, 119017 Russia
Received March 17, 2009

Abstract—A GIS layout of the map of recent volcanism in North Eurasia is used to estimate the geodynamic
setting of this volcanism. The fields of recent volcanic activity surround the Russian and Siberian platforms—
the largest ancient tectonic blocks of Eurasia—from the arctic part of North Eurasia to the Russian Northeast
and Far East and then via Central Asia to the Caucasus and West Europe. Asymmetry in the spatial distribution
of recent volcanics of North Eurasia is emphasized by compositional variations and corresponding geodynamic
settings. Recent volcanic rocks in the arctic part of North Eurasia comprise the within-plate alkaline and sub-
alkaline basic rocks on the islands of the Arctic Ocean and tholeiitic basalts of the mid-ocean Gakkel Ridge.
The southern, eastern, and western volcanic fields are characterized by a combination of within-plate alkaline
and subalkaline basic rocks, including carbonatites in Afghanistan, and island-arc or collision basalt–andesite–
rhyolite associations. The spatial distribution of recent volcanism is controlled by the thermal state of the mantle
beneath North Eurasia. The enormous mass of the oceanic lithosphere was subducted during the formation of
the Pangea supercontinent primarily beneath Eurasia (cold superplume) and cooled its mantle, having retained
the North Pangea supercontinent almost unchanged for 200 Ma. Volcanic activity was related to the develop-
ment of various shallow-seated geodynamic settings and deep-seated within-plate processes. Within-plate vol-
canism in eastern and southern North Eurasia is controlled, as a rule, by upper mantle plumes, which appeared
in zones of convergence of lithospheric plates in connection with ascending hot flows compensating submer-
gence of cold lithospheric slabs. After the breakdown of Pangea, which affected the northern hemisphere of the
Earth insignificantly, marine basins with oceanic crust started to form in the Cretaceous and Cenozoic in
response to the subsequent breakdown of the supercontinent in the northern hemisphere. In our opinion, the
young Arctic Ocean that arose before the growth of the Gakkel Ridge and, probably, the oceanic portion of the
Amerasia Basin should be regarded as a typical intracontinental basin within the supercontinent [48]. Most
likely, this basin was formed under the effect of mantle plumes in the course of their propagation (expansion,
after Yu.M. Pushcharovsky) to the north of the Central Atlantic, including an inferred plume of the North Pole
DOI: 10.1134/S001685210905001X

INTRODUCTION into account the type of volcanism, composition of igne-

The project “Recent Volcanism: Its Evolution and Cat- ous rocks, the staged evolution of volcanic activity, and its
astrophic Consequences” is one of the pivotal projects in geodynamic setting. The relationships of recent volcanism
the program of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of not only to geodynamics but also to neotectonics and
Sciences entitled “Changes in the Environment and Cli- mountain building are characterized for particular regions.
mate: Natural Catastrophes.” The most important objec- It should be noted that this paper is based on new K–Ar
tive of this project is to ascertain the principles of spa- and radiocarbon age determinations published in the col-
tiotemporal evolution of recent volcanism in North Eur- lective monograph [14] with the same title as the afore-
asia. In this paper, we present original data and the results mentioned project and as a short summary in [18]. The
of integration of extensive available information in form of great body of new factual data cannot be considered in a
the GIS layout of the map of recent volcanism of North journal article, so that only a brief overview sufficient for
Eurasia (Fig. 1) compiled by V.V. Akinin, O.A. Braitseva, establishing the geodynamic setting of recent volcanism in
O.A. Bogatikov, V.M. Gazeev, A.G. Gurbanov, North Eurasia is presented in this paper. Readers can get
A.N. Evdokimov, V.I. Kovalenko, E.A. Korago, acquainted with the full available information in [14].
E.A. Kudryashova, A.B. Leksin, I.V. Melekestsev,
M.A. Pevzner, V.V. Ponomareva, V.G. Sakhno, F.M. Stu- THE MAP OF RECENT VOLCANISM
pak, E.V. Sharkov, and V.V. Yarmolyuk and edited by OF NORTH EURASIA:
V.I. Kovalenko, V.V. Yarmolyuk, and O.A. Bogatikov. The DEMARCATION AND GEODYNAMIC SETTING
map is based on the results of investigations of many geol-
ogists integrated and supplemented by executors of the Contrary to the previous views that only Kamchatka
program. The demarcation of the mapped territory takes and the Kuril Islands are hazardous with respect to


40° 50° 60° 70° 80° 80° 70°



Prague 180°

10° 170°




30° Tehran

Beijing Seul

Vol. 43
40° 50° 60° 70° 80° 90° 100° 110° 120° 130°

No. 5
Fig. 1. Map of recent volcanism of North Eurasia. Legend is compiled after the Map of Neotectonics the World [12].


Types of structural units at neotectonic stage

Platform Orogen Riftogen
In ancient In young platforms On Early Cenozoic On Late Cenozoic and
(Prebaikalian) platforms and older fold basement older fold basement
In shields In plates In shields In plates (epiplatform) (epigeosynclinal)
and massifs and massifs
–1000 –6000 –500 –4000 –7000 –7000 –4000
–500 –5000 0 –3000 –6000 –6000 –3000
0 –4000 500 –2000 –5000 –5000 –2000
500 –3000 1000 –1000 –4000 –4000 –1000
1000 –2000 2000 –500 –3000 –3000 0
2000 –1000 3000 0 –2000 –2000 1000
3000 –500 5000 500 –1000 –1000 2000
0 1000 0 0 3000
500 2000 1000 1000 4000
1000 3000 2000 2000
2000 4000 3000 3000
3000 4000 4000
4000 5000

Transitional between continental and oceanic

Rise of subcontinental Subsidence of continental Subsidence of suboceanic crust Megaflexure

crust and island arcs or subcontinental crust

–2000 1000 Deep –500

–1000 0 Trench 0
0 Bathyal Trough 500

Platform Orogen Riftogen
Arched and block Arched and volcanic
Plate Bathyal Bathyal 0
Marginal swell 0 1000
Arched and block relative uplifts 1000 2000

Volcanic occurrences
Age (Ma)

Holocene (<0.01) Pleistocene–late Pliocene (<3) Pliocene (6–3) Miocene (25–6) Oligocene (>25)

Volcanic edifice
Other symbols
Normal and reverse faults Thrust fault Boundary of lithospheric plate State border

Fig 1. (Contd.)

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

340 KOVALENKO et al.

young volcanic activity, the performed study has shown largest ancient tectonic blocks. Beginning from the
that potential volcanic hazard threatens more extensive western Arctic Region and moving eastward, recent
territories at the northeastern, arctic, and southern mar- volcanism is traced from Spitsbergen Archipelago,
gins of the Russian Federation. This hazard is related to Franz Josef Land, and Novaya Zemlya to the New Sibe-
those types of volcanic activity which are not character- rian Islands, Gakkel Ridge, the islands that mark the
istic of Kamchatka and the Kuril Islands and develop in De Long Dome, and finally, to the northeastern prov-
the within-plate and collision geodynamic settings. The ince of within-plate volcanism of the Chukchi Penin-
centers of such volcanic activity are situated within sula and Alaska. In the east of North Eurasia, recent
Russia and close to its borders. Therefore, it has volcanism develops as a chain of island arcs, including
become necessary to depict the occurrences of recent the Aleutian, Kamchatka, Kuril, and Japan arcs, and the
volcanism over the entire territory of North Eurasia. adjacent within-plate volcanic province of the eastern
margin of the Far East. The system of recent volcanic
The elaboration of this problem in the framework of
regions that frames the southern part of North Eurasia
the program “Changes in the Environment and Climate:
is traced westward from the Amur region via the Baikal
Natural Catastrophes” resulted in the compilation of a
region, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, and the
map of recent volcanism of North Eurasia using GIS
Caucasus to the eastern and central Mediterranean and
technology (Fig. 1). The main objective of this map is
West Europe. Via the north of West Europe, the western
delineating the regions of volcanic activity that devel-
European segment of the belt of recent volcanism is
oped in the Pleistocene and Holocene, i.e., those that are
connected with the western Arctic segment.
not older than 1.8 Ma and are related to recent variations
of tectonic and geodynamic regimes. The latter condition The asymmetry in the spatial distribution of recent
implies that the nature of volcanic activity in specific volcanism in North Eurasia is expressed in the composi-
neovolcanic provinces has remained unchanged until tional zoning of igneous rocks and variation in their geo-
now and the settings of recurrent volcanic eruptions dynamic setting. The arctic segment of the recent volca-
remain the same. Because of this, the map is focused on nic belt in North Eurasia is distinguished by alkaline and
the attributes pertaining to the last stages of the evolution subalkaline basic rocks on the islands of the Arctic
of volcanic regions. These stages differ in age in particu- Ocean and tholeiitic basalts of the Gakkel Ridge. Such
lar regions. For example, the present-day structural grain rock associations are referred to within-plate provinces
controlling volcanic activity in Kamchatka started to and mid-ocean ridges, respectively. The volcanic regions
evolve about 50 ka ago, and volcanism of precisely this in the eastern segment of the belt related to island arcs are
age is shown in the map (Fig. 1). In contrast, the geody- characterized by a predominance of basaltic andesite and
namic and tectonic regimes of volcanism in the within- andesite in the complete range of basalt to rhyolite. The
plate regions of Central Asia did not change during the southern and the western segments of the volcanic belt
entire Late Cenozoic (>25 Ma ago), and the volcanic are distinguished by a combination of alkaline and sub-
attributes of this time interval are reproduced in the map. alkaline basic rocks, including carbonatites in Afghani-
stan and basalt–andesite–rhyolite associations of colli-
The topographic and neotectonic [12] maps, as well
sion-related volcanic rocks.
as the maps of active faults [11] and earthquake sources
[28], were used as a structural base of the GIS layout The spatial distribution of recent volcanism in North
shown in Fig. 1. The volcanic areas projected on these Eurasia is nonuniform: igneous rocks concentrate in
maps in the form of separate layers allowed us to con- some regions and are sporadic in others. The volcanic
sider the links of volcanic activity with many parame- regions are not only spatially separated but differ from
ters of recent endogenic activity and to provide insights one another in tectonic control of volcanic activity, its
into the general evolutional trends of recent volcanism age, and evolutional trend. Volcanic regions of the mid-
in North Eurasia. The particular volcanic regions differ ocean ridges, island arcs, zones of continental collision,
in the composition of igneous rocks and geological within-plate regions related to mantle hot spots, conti-
conditions of volcanic eruptions. The map demon- nental rifts, and transcontinental belts are distinguished
strates localization of active volcanic fields in the sys- in North Eurasia (Fig. 2).
tem of orographic elements of Eurasia and their distinct
Volcanic regions of mid-ocean ridges are illus-
relations to young mountains, i.e., zones of neotectonic
trated by the Gakkel Ridge, about 1800 km in extent
activity characterized by numerous microplates smaller
(Fig. 2, region I). This ridge is an arctic continuation of
in size in comparison with common lithospheric plates.
the Mid-Atlantic Ridge in the global system of Mid-
These zones differ in geodynamics and occur at the
Atlantic ridges. The spreading rate in the Gakkel Ridge
periphery of the Eurasian lithospheric plate.
is not high (1.0–1.3 cm/yr); however, its structure is
The concentrically asymmetric spatial distribution typical of MORs. Linear volcanic edifices extend along
of recent volcanism is characteristic of North Eurasia. the axial rift valley. At the continental framework of the
On examination of the map (Fig. 1), the concentric newly formed oceanic lithosphere, Late Cenozoic
arrangement of the volcanic fields is noteworthy. The alkali basalts erupted on the New Siberian, Novaya
regions with recent volcanism make up the belts sur- Zemlya, and Spitzbergen islands (Fig. 2, region VI),
rounding the Russian and Siberian platforms as the which, probably, mark the region of rifting in the Arctic

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009





1 b 2 3 4

Fig. 2. Geodynamic demarcation of recent volcanic regions in North Eurasia. (1) Lava fields, (2) convergent boundary of lithos-
pheric plates: (a) related to subduction zones of island arcs and (b) related to zones of continental collision; (3) other boundaries of
plates and microplates; (4) boundary of volcanic region. Volcanic regions (numerals in figure): I, Gakkel Mid-Ocean Ridge;
II, Kamchatka, Kuril, Aleutian, and other island arcs; (III, IV)Tethyan Collision Belt: III, Asian Branch; IV, Anatolian–Balkan
Branch; (V, VI) within-plate provinces: V, East and Central Asia (subprovinces: Va, Maritime, Vb, Central Asian); VI, Northeastern
Russia; (VII, VIII) transcontinental rift belts: VII, Central African–Central European, VIII, East African–Transcaucasus.

Eurasia Basin. Recent volcanism is suggested in the ity proceeded with variable intensity along its entire
Makarov Basin [2] and even at the North Pole, though extent from Central Tibet in the east to the Pyrenean
other authors are in doubt about this inference [4]. Peninsula in the west. The Asian and European
Volcanic regions of suprasubduction island arcs branches of the Alpine–Himalayan volcanic belt, also
are exemplified in the Kuril, Kamchatka, and other vol- called Tethyan, are distinguished.
canic arcs of East Asia (Fig. 2, region II). The recent The Asian branch (Fig. 2, region III) combines the
stage of their evolution is characterized by volcanoes volcanic regions that are related to the part of the colli-
that appeared during the last 40–50 Ma. Almost all sion belt located in the Asian continent and; it formed
morphological types of volcanoes are known: lava pla- above the zone of collision and subduction of the Ara-
teau and plains, shield volcanoes and statavolcanoes, bian and Indian plates under the Eurasian Plate. Recent
and calderas. Andesites are the most abundant, how- volcanism is related to the late orogenic stage and
ever, the composition of rocks ranges from basalt to started mainly in the Pliocene [19, 53, 54]. The large
rhyolite, including lavas, tuffs, and ingnimbrites. Vol- lava plateaus, shield volcanoes, and stratovolcanoes
canic rocks of the calc-alkaline series are the most fre- formed at that time are grouped into volcanic chains
quent; the tholeiitic and subalkaline series are less extending along the mountain ranges. The igneous
abundant. rocks vary in composition from alkaline to calc-alka-
Volcanic regions of continental collision zones are line basalts via andesites to rhyolites, and even carbon-
related to the Alpine–Himalayan Orogenic Belt that atite volcanic edifices in Afghanistan.
was formed in the zone of collision between the Ara- The European branch (Fig. 2, region IV) of the col-
bian–African and Indian plates. Recent volcanic activ- lision volcanic belt is traced along the northern conti-

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

342 KOVALENKO et al.

nental framework of the Mediterranean Sea and charac- of the Central Europe Rift System, in particular, the
terized by relations to subduction zones. The volcanic Rhine Graben; the Mediterranean region (Pantelleria,
activity developed during the whole Cenozoic. The Sardinia, Roman Province); and Northwest Africa
Pliocene–Pleistocene volcanism is related to recent (Tibesti, Jabal Haraji, Air, Ahaggar) up to the Gulf of
mountain building. Andesites, dacites, and rhyolites Guinea.
compose stratovolcanoes and pyroclastic fields. The The EATC Rift Belt (Fig. 2, region VIII) is traced
present-day island-arc volcanism is related to the from the Forecaucasus (Mineral’nye Vody district) to
Aegean and Eolian arcs with a number of central volca- Tanzania. In the Alpine Fold System, this belt is marked
noes consisting of andesites, dacites, and rhyolites by volcanic fields of the Transcaucasus Transverse
(lavas and pyroclastic rocks). The volcanoes of the Rise, where more than half of the total volume of late
Vesuvius group stand out by high-K alkaline igneous orogenic igneous rocks of the Mediterranean Belt were
rocks. formed from the late Miocene to Quaternary [19]. To
Volcanic regions of within-plate volcanism make the south, in the Arabian Shield, the belt is traced by
up spatially separate groups regarded as within-plate volcanic fields and grabens of the Levant System and
volcanic provinces; the province of East and Central Red Sea Graben passing further southward into the East
Asia is the largest one. This province comprises a num- African Rift System.
ber of spatially separate and structurally unrelated vol- In conclusion of this section, it should be noted that
canic regions that evolved during, at least, the last the occurrences of recent volcanism in North Eurasia
30 Ma [36, 38]. The Maritime and Central Asian sub- are controlled by the boundaries of the lithospheric
provinces are distinguished in geological structure and plates. In the arctic segment of the belt of volcanic
composition of igneous rocks. The Maritime subprov- regions, these boundaries are of divergent character,
ince (Fig. 2, region Va) is characterized by NE-trending whereas in the eastern and southern segments they are
grabens, which are traced along the continental margin mainly related to convergent plate boundaries in the
and determine the linear distribution of the rift-related form of island arcs and zones of continental collision.
volcanic fields. Tholeiitic, subalkali, and alkali basalts
associated with locally occurring trachyrhyolites,
comendites, and pantellerites are predominant. GEODYNAMIC SETTING OF RECENT
The volcanic regions of the Central Asian subprov- VOLCANISM AND A GENERAL MODEL
ince (Fig. 2, region Vb) are scattered between the Sibe- OF VOLCANIC ACTIVITY IN NORTH EURASIA
rian and Chinese platforms. Systems of grabens (rifts), The relationship of recent volcanism in North Eur-
for example, the Baikal Rift System, are conjugated asia to various types of lithospheric plate boundaries is
with some volcanic regions. In general, however, volca- rather evident and in some regions does not contradict
nic activity was unrelated to graben formation and the dependence of igneous rock compositions on the
largely developed beyond the rift basins [35, 36]. geodynamic mechanisms of magmatic melt formation.
Melanephelinite, basanite, trachybasalt, and basaltic For example, magmatism of the Gakkel Ridge corre-
trachyandesite are typical. This volcanic subprovince sponds to the MOR setting, while the igneous associa-
extends into Southeast Asia up to the western margin of tions of the Aleutian, Kamchatka, and Kuril island arcs
the Pacific Ocean. are typical of subduction zones. The magmatism of the
The Northeastern within-plate volcanic province Alpine–Himalayan Belt of continental collision fits, to
(Fig. 2, region VI) is characterized by sporadic occur- a great extent, the mechanisms inherent to convergent
rences of late Miocene to Holocene volcanic rocks in plate boundaries. At the same time, the evolution of
the form of separate lava flows, cinder cones, recent volcanism in North Eurasia raises questions,
melanephelinitic, basanitic, and basaltic stocks and which are left without answers in terms of commonly
dikes known from Chukchi Peninsula and Alaska. accepted geodynamic systematics. (1) Why does the
Some of the volcanic centers are controlled by plate recent volcanism that makes up the marginal belt of
boundaries with high present-day seismicity, e.g., the Eurasia practically not enter into the Russian and Sibe-
Moma Graben at the Asian continental extension of the rian platforms as its ancient core? (2) Why are volcanic
Gakkel Ridge. Other centers are located far from the rocks different in composition and commonly formed
plate boundaries. in different geodynamic settings closely associated in
The Central African–Central European (CACE) and space and time? (3) What are the geological and geody-
the East African–Transcaucasus (EATC) transconti- namic implications of the within-plate volcanic associ-
nental near-meridional rift belts are selected as a spe- ations widespread in zones of recent magmatism?
cial group of within-plate volcanic regions. These belts (4) What geological and geodynamic processes are
are characterized by cross-cutting orientation with responsible for the formation of recent volcanism in
respect to the Eurasian, African, and Arabian lithos- North Eurasia?
pheric plate boundaries and the Tethyan collision vol- When discussing these and some other questions,
canic belt [19, 34]. The CACE Belt (Fig. 2, region VII) we will issue from the available general and regional
is marked by Late Cenozoic volcanic fields and grabens schemes of geological and tectonic correlation and

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


0 Ma
180 Ma
0 Ma 0 Ma
0 Ma

0 Ma 180 Ma 180 Ma
50 Ma

2 3
200 Ma
Fig. 4. Lithospheric plates buried during the last 180 Ma:
results of calculation, after [49]. (1) subducted plates;
(2) plates subducted beneath Eurasia; (3) vectors and linear
displacements of lithospheric plates during their conver-
gence. The origin of the arrow indicates the plate margin at
the beginning of convergence and the end of arrow, the
present-day position of the plate margin. Numerals are the
time intervals when the plates were displaced. According to
the reconstructions, deepwater trenches migrated toward
the Pacific Ocean and to the north in the territory of Tethys.

islands separated by rifts filled with plateau basalts

Fig. 3. Continents of (a) present-day Earth and (b) Pangea occupied the place of the present-day Arctic Ocean [2].
(200 Ma ago).
Pangea was broken up approximately 200 Ma ago
into Laurasia and Gondwana. In the Mesozoic and
from the principles of deep geodynamics (plume tec- Early Cenozoic, Gondwana disintegrated into Africa,
tonics), plate tectonics, and the data of global seismic South America, India, Australia, and Antarctica,
tomography [5, 15, 25, 31, 32, 35, 36]. whereas Laurasia broke up into Eurasia and North
The neotectonic evolution of North Eurasia. As America. This breakup eventually led to the closure of
was mentioned above, recent volcanism in North Eur- the South Anyui Basin, which corresponded in the Cre-
asia was formed in different geodynamic settings con- taceous to the northern Pacific Ocean that divided the
trolled by plate and plume tectonics [5, 15, 24, 25, 35, Eurasian and North American plates in the east. The
37]. We cannot consider the entire tectonic history of lithosphere of this basin was subducted beneath East
North Eurasia in this paper, and this is hardly necessary, Eurasia in the Early Cretaceous with the formation of
because a great number of publications concerning this the South Anyui Suture Zone [2].
subject are available [2, 4, 22, 48, 49, to name only a The enormous mass of the oceanic lithosphere was
few]. Only the aspects of tectonic evolution related to subducted when Eurasia was being formed (Fig. 4). In
recent volcanism are pointed out here. the East Mediterranean, the African Plate was sub-
The continent of Eurasia was formed in the Late ducted beneath the European continent; the Arabian
Paleozoic (about 250 Ma ago) by amalgamation of the Plate, beneath Asia Minor and the Caucasus; the Indo-
continental blocks of Baltia, Siberia, Kazakhstan, Australian Plate, beneath Central Asia. In this way, the
Tarim, and some smaller blocks during the closure of Eurasian continent expanded to the south. In the east,
the Asian and Ural paleooceans in the course of the Eurasia has grown during the last 180 Ma largely by
Variscan and Indosinian orogenies [48, 51] (Fig. 3). subduction of the oceanic crust because of the absence
The closure of the Iapetus paleoocean in the Late of large continental masses in this part of the Pacific,
Ordovician to the Early Silurian resulted in the amal- except Kamchatka, which collided with East Asia. The
gamation of the North American and Baltic cratons subduction and related cooling of the mantle beneath
with Greenland. The amalgamation of all of the afore- Eurasia continue to the present day. The calculated
mentioned continents together with the continents of the lengths of the subducted lithosphere for Japan were
southern hemisphere gave rise to the creation of the Pan- 10000 km over the last 100 Ma and 15000 km over the
gea supercontinent at the end of the Paleozoic (Fig. 3). last 150 Ma; 6500 km of the Tethys were consumed
During the formation of Pangea, the arctic shelf was over the last 100 Ma and 4500 km of the Himalayas
consolidated into a single continental block by the Mid- over the last 50 Ma. Similar estimates for the Western
dle Triassic as a result of the collision of numerous ter- Alps are 1100 km over the last 150 Ma and 500 km over
ranes of West Siberia from the Spitsbergen islands to 100 Ma [42, 46, 49]. This mass of the oceanic lithos-
the eastern boundary of the Laptev Sea. At that time, a pheric plates is established beneath the continent by
vast epicontinental shallow-water basin with numerous seismic tomography as a cold superplume, or a slab

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

344 KOVALENKO et al.

Fig. 5. Regions of high-velocity cold mantle of North Eurasia in the transitional zone at a depth of ~600 km, after [59]. View from
the North Pole. (1, 2) Continental plates: (1) continents proper and (2) continental shelf; (3) high-velocity cold mantle; (4) conver-
gent boundary. A–B–C is the line of the schematic section shown in Fig. 6.

graveyard (high-velocity seismic anomaly) almost Greenland, Svalbard, and Franz Josef Land is outlined
throughout the mantle from discontinuities at 410–660 km at the northeastern margin of Queen Elizabeth Island
down to layer D'' at the mantle–core interface [48, 49]. and referred to the effect of a mantle plume. According
Low-velocity seismic anomalies (hot mantle regions) to preliminary data, the formation of dike swarms
are noted largely in the upper mantle at depths above lasted through the Cretaceous and Cenozoic. The
410–660 km. The aforementioned cold superplume Makarov Basin, with spreading in its axial zone and
embraces practically the whole of Eurasia up to the
northern Urals and the North Sea and the Tethyan Med- subduction at its eastern margin, opened 120–90 Ma
iterranean province (Fig. 5). ago [2]. Subduction was accompanied by island-arc
volcanism. The Alpha–Mendeleev volcanic plateau
A quite different situation occurred in the Arctic arose above this subduction zone at the end of the Cre-
Region. The Canada Basin, as a part of the larger Amer- taceous [2]. Within-plate basic volcanic rocks were
asia Basin, opened here in the Early Cretaceous along
with the formation of the Franz Josef volcanic plateau, formed at the same time at the continental shelf of Eur-
which is combined with dike swarms and volcanic asia: the Hyperborean (De Long) Dome in the Canada
flows of the arctic islands of Canada and Greenland into Arctic Archipelago and Cape Washington in the north
the High Arctic Large Igneous Province (HALIP) [39, of Greenland. Spreading in the Gakkel Ridge started in
44, 45, 47]. The center of the dike swarms recon- the Paleocene 53 Ma ago contemporaneously with the
structed at the moment predating the breakdown of opening of the Eurasia Basin [3], which continues to

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009



North America Basin Eurasia


Continental lithosphere Standard mantle

Subducted lithosphere and
Arctic sedimentary basin high-velocity cold mantle
Transitional mantle Mantle flow
Low-velocity hot mantle

Fig. 6. Geodynamic settings that control formation of North Pangea supercontinent.

expand currently, with the development of tholeiitic quences only from the side of the Atlantic. Thus, the
basaltic volcanism. recent geodynamic evolution of North Pangea supports
Thus, the geological history of the arctic part of North the data of global seismic tomography, indicating the
Eurasia, on the one hand, and its eastern, southern, and predominance of cold mantle in this part of the Earth.
western portions, on the other hand, are different. The In general, the Cenozoic geological history of Arc-
eastern, southern, and western portions were character- tica resembles the late stages of evolution of the super-
ized by long-term subduction that gave rise to the forma- continents (Fig. 6). Eurasia, North America, and Green-
tion of the cold middle and lower mantle [26, 27], land with their shelves can be referred to such a super-
whereas the geodynamics of the active arctic regions was continent, where oceanic basins occupy less than 50%
close to extension. Comparison of the northern and of the Arctic Ocean and only a negligible portion of the
southern groups of continents pertaining to Pangea, how- aforementioned continents (Fig. 7). If this suggestion is
ever, indicates that local extension in the northern part of valid, the Arctic Ocean itself should be regarded as an
this supercontinent was weak. In the southern (Gond- intracontinental sedimentary basin typical of the evolved
wana) part of Pangea, practically all present-day conti- supercontinent (cf. Fig. 6 and Fig. 15 from [48]). The
nents had been separated by that time, whereas in the arc- origination of a basin with oceanic crust and its connec-
tic part, the Atlantic spreading system expanded into the tion with the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the separation of
Arctic Region with the formation of an insignificant North America and Greenland, are indications of the
inner oceanic basin and the Gakkel Mid-Ocean Ridge subsequent breakdown of this supercontinent.
only in the Cenozoic [23, 33] (Fig. 1). Rifting in Arctica
was a local rather than a global phenomenon. As was Within-plate magmatism of North Eurasia and
emphasized in [33], rifting and spreading in Arctica is of mantle plumes. The regions of recent volcanism in
incomplete character with repeated jumping of the North Eurasia are delineated on the map shown in
spreading axes. The geodynamic difference of the north- Fig. 1. These regions are related to the plate boundaries
ern and the southern parts of Pangea probably testifies to and the territories situated beyond these boundaries,
the general retention of the supercontinental character of i.e., the areas of within-plate reactivation. In addition to
its northern block. This was possible only if the astheno- these regions, magmatism with intraplate isotopic
sphere and the mantle as a whole were relatively cold and geochemical and volcanological signatures is wide-
the lithospheric plates were retained as in a trap from the spread in the unusual setting, first of all, in the volcanic
Late Paleozoic until the present. If this was actually the regions of the collisional Alpine–Himalayan Belt. This
case, the incomplete rifting in Arctica, accompanied by is an important point, and we will dwell on it below.
spreading, reflected local invasions of hot mantle Let us estimate which volcanic occurrences shown
through the prevalent cold mantle material. Such expan- in the map are related to mantle plumes documented by
sion of the hot mantle into Arctica had global conse- seismic tomography [60]. Only a few hotspots, charac-

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

346 KOVALENKO et al.




1 2 3 4 5 6

Fig. 7. Continents and regions of recent magmatism in the northern hemisphere of the Earth (view from the North Pole). (1, 2) Con-
tinental plates: (1) continents proper and (2) continental shelf; (3) oceanic plate; (4) recent volcanic fields; (5) convergent boundaries
in North Pangea; (6) microplate boundary. Tectonic elements (abbreviations in circles): Can, Canada Basin; M, Makarov Basin;
EA, Eurasia Basin; FJ, Franz Josef Islands; SA, South Anyui Suture.

terized in [60], are related to the occurrences of recent anomaly is interrupted by high-velocity cold mantle,
volcanism in North Eurasia. A whole-mantle plume which is correlated with the subducted African Plate.
that extends from the mantle–core interface is estab- Low-velocity hot mantle material appears again above
lished beneath the Eifel volcanic region in West a depth of 410 km.
Europe. A low-velocity seismic anomaly is traced from
the mantle–core interface upward to the discontinuity Low-velocity seismic anomalies (hot mantle) are
of 660 km, where it spreads in the northwestern direc- detected above 410 km, in the transitional zone between
tion. In the depth interval between 660 and 410 km, this 410–660 km, and below this zone beneath active within-

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Fig. 8. Regions of low-velocity hot mantle (mantle plumes) in the upper mantle of North Pangea, after [7–9, 59, 60]. The hatched
circles are projections of mantle plumes. See Fig. 6 for other symbols.

plate volcanoes in the eastern part of North Eurasia the surface, especially in the continental part, these
(Changbaishan, Pektusan, and Wudalianchi volcanoes). anomalies are marked by occurrences of alkali and sub-
A great number of mantle plumes are established in alkali basalts with OIB signatures [29] and, occasion-
Southeast and East Asia [49, 59]. Some occurrences of ally, by tholeiitic basalts close to MORB in composi-
recent volcanism shown in the map are related to these tion. This recent volcanism of East and Southeast Asia
plumes. The location of such plumes is demonstrated in has been called remarkable [50] because it is confined
Fig. 8. They are traced from the Aleutian arc, along the to the region of a cold superplume [49] and requires a
eastern margin of Eurasia up to New Zealand. The rela- special explanation of its geodynamic setting. The
tion of plumes to several island arcs attracts attention. authors mentioned above deemed that the occurrence of
In some cases, the plumes are confined to marginal a deep cold superplume in combination with high
seas; however, as was emphasized by Maruyama [49], endogenic activity, manifested not only in within-plate
a number of plumes cannot be referred to marginal volcanism but also in the formation of many micro-
basins (Caroline, Fuji, Woodlark) because they occur plates (Fig. 8), often with marginal basins, is the main
beyond the trench or are unrelated to shallow plate tec- geodynamic contradiction of this region. Both the vol-
tonics. These plumes are characterized by low-velocity canism in such basins and the within-plate characteris-
S-wave anomalies that indicate hot mantle in the transi- tics of the igneous rocks are explained by spreading.
tional zone (410–660 km) [58] and deeper [59]. Near The seismic tomography in the system of the Tonga

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

348 KOVALENKO et al.

island arc and marginal sea shows, however, that this A low-velocity region of the mantle interpreted as a
interpretation is dubious because the low-velocity hot or water-enriched mantle plume is detected at the
anomaly beneath the marginal sea extends to a depth bottom of the western Mediterranean and in central
greater than 500 km, whereas the sources of spreading- West Europe [43]. Such a mantle underlies almost the
related magmas are commonly detected at a depth entire western European region of recent within-plate
above 100 km. We will return to this contradiction volcanism, including, first of all, the Central European
below. Rift Belt, as well as other districts of West Europe, the
East Atlantic, North Africa, and the West Mediterra-
We should make separate mention of the deep struc- nean (to the west of Italy). The mantle of this territory
ture of the Central Asian within-plate province, which, is characterized by anomalously low velocities of P-
in the opinion of some authors, is genetically related to and S-waves over an area of 2500 × 4000 km2 and more
the processes that occur along the eastern convergent than 500 m in depth, mainly localizing in the transi-
boundary of the continent [7–9, 20, 59]. The idea of the tional zone. The occurrence of hot mantle is confirmed
existence of hot mantle at the bottom of this province is by the high heat flow beneath the Central European Rift
confirmed by geophysical data. The territory where the Zone. As is suggested in [43], the occurrence of a strat-
asthenospheric mantle of South Siberia and Mongolia iform hot plume in this region explains the develop-
rises to a depth of less than 100 km [6, 61, 63] is con- ment of local extension against the background of
toured in Fig. 9. In addition, the local juts of the regional compression caused by subduction of the Afri-
asthenophere, which attain the bottom of the crust at a can Plate beneath Eurasia. The lower temperature of
depth of about 50 km, e.g., in the South Baikal Basin, this plume in comparison with the superplumes is
are shown; they are interpreted as mantle plumes explained by its shallow-seated position in the transi-
[36, 63]. The location of these plumes coincides with tional zone between the upper and lower mantle. The
regions of Late Cenozoic volcanism (Fig. 9). In partic- same cause limits the spreading of recent volcanism in
ular, the South Hangay, South Baikal, and Udokan West Europe and the Mediterranean and explains the
hotspots and the Vitim Plateau in the marginal part of local rifting characterized by insignificant opening of
the North Baikal mantle salient correspond to the extension structural elements. This plume is similar to
plumes in their localization. the anomalous mantle of Central and East Asia in the
composition of igneous rocks (alkali, subalkali, and
Zorin et al. [7–9] have established the location of
less frequent tholeiitic basalts), localization in the tran-
plume stems, which previously remained uncertain.
sitional zone (410–660 km), and ambiguous relation-
The gravity models of plume stems beneath the Baikal
ships to subduction zones. The control of particular vol-
Rift Zone and the highlands of Central Mongolia canic fields by mantle anomalies is similar as well.
(Figs. 10a, 10b) are consistent with the seismic data on Thus, the relatively narrow mantle juts (hot fingers) at
the distribution of group velocity of long-period Ray- the bottom of the Central French, Rhine, and Bogemian
leigh waves (Fig. 10c) and azimuthal seismic anisot- massifs and the Panonian Basin ascend from the transi-
ropy (Fig. 10d) [7–9]. tional zone to the crust bottom [56, 67], like the afore-
It turned out that the plume stems are located mentioned salients at the bottom of the volcanic regions
beneath the thinned lithosphere, i.e, within the previ- in Central Asia.
ously established asthenospheric salient [6, 62]. The Unfortunately, data of seismic tomography in the
reduced thickness of the lithosphere above the plumes arctic part of North Eurasia are lacking, so that some
is a rather typical phenomenon related to the thermal suggestions stated below are based on analogy with the
effect [55]. As was stated in [9, 63], the asthenospheric regions underlain by mantle plumes.
salient is composed of merging plume heads. Because
the plumes are melted as a result of decompression The Jan Mayen plume located between the North
largely in their head portions at a depth of 60–150 km Atlantic and the Arctic Region and proved by seismic
[10], the location of the fields of Neogene basalts is tomography [60] is close to the Iceland plume in mor-
determined, to a greater extent, by configuration of phology. This plume is traceable from the core–mantle
asthenospheric salient rather than by the position of the interface to the upper mantle (with several gaps) and
plume stem (Fig. 9). The existence of mantle plumes at expands below the discontinuity of 660 km. It is evident
the bottom, at least of the South Hangay and South that volcanism is fed here by this plume.
Baikal regions was corroborated by seismic tomogra- Using the correlation between surface geology and
phy [17, 21, 22]. As a result, the thinned stem segments global seismic tomography for the substantiation of the
of the plumes have been traced to a depth greater than concept of plume tectonics, Maruyama [48, pp. 26 and
600 km. The geophysical data allow us to speak about 30] mentioned a plume beneath the North Pole amongst
streams of low-velocity mantle beneath the volcanic the deep mantle plumes of the Atlantic. Unfortunately,
regions of Central Asia. These streams are mushroom- this plume was not shown in any of numerous figures
shaped, as is typical of plumes, and ascend at least from presented in the papers by Maruyama and other authors
the upper and lower mantle boundaries up to the lower engaged in global seismic tomography. If it is assumed
edge of the lithosphere. that the opening of the Atlantic Ocean during the break-

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


102° 108° 114° 120°

3 Sib




52° L.


48° gay




96° 102° 108° 114°

Fig. 9. Mountain systems and regions of recent volcanism in the south of Eastern Siberia and Central Mongolia with structural elements
of the lithosphere, after [63]. (1) Lava field, (2) plate and microplate boundaries, (3) asthenospheric rise at a depth of <100 km,
(4) asthenospheric salient (mantle plume) at a depth of <50 km, (5) dominating mountain peaks. Lithospheric plates and microplates
(inscriptions in figure): Sib, Siberian; Mon, Mongolian; Am, Amur; volcanic regions: SH, South Hangay, SB, South Baikal;
NB, North Baikal; Ud, Udokan; Vit, Vitim Plateau; Dar, Dariganga Plateau.

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

350 KOVALENKO et al.

(a) 102° 108° 114° 120° 60° (c) 102° 108° 114° 120° 60°
Gravity anomaly, Group Rayleigh

mGal velocity, km/s
–30 –20 –10 0 10 III 3.4 3.6 3.8 4.0 4.2 3.9
0 56° 3.8 56°
56° 4.0
56° –5

96° II 96°

0 ÓL. Baikal
0 5 L. Baikal
52° – 52° Irkutsk
Irkutsk 52° ia Chita 52°
Russia Chita Russ
Ulan-Ude Ulan-Ude 3
Mongolia Mong L. Hövsgöl .8


48° –25 48° 7


–1 15 IV 48° 48°

90° –

Ulaanbaatar Ulaanbaatar


Ch Ch
ina ina


44° 44° 44° 44°

–20 114° 114°
96° V 96°
102° 108° 102° 108°

(b) 120° 60° (d) 102° 108° IIIb

120° 60°
Gravity anomaly, 102° 108°
mGal 60°
–30 –20 –10 0 10 IIIa

56° II 56°
56° 90° 56°
96° II 96° L. Baikal

52° –5 52° Irkutsk

Irkutsk 52° Russ Chita 52°
Chita ia
Ia Ia Ulan-Ude
–10 Ulan-Ude Mon
golia L. Hövsgöl
48° 48°

–15 48° 48°


90° IV 90° IV

Ib Ulaanbaatar Ulaanbaatar




44° 44° 44° 44°

0 114° 114°
96° –2 96°
102° V 108° 102° 108°
0 1000 2000 km

IV 1 2 3

Fig. 10. Interpretation of geophysical data for territory of Central Asia, after [7–9]. (a, b) Gravity models of plume stems: (a) long-
wave isostatic anomaly, (b) theoretical gravity effect of a set of cylindrical bodies whose upper and lower edges are located at depths
of 150 km and 420 km, respectively; (c) group velocity of Rayleigh waves for a period of 100 s. Projections of plume stems fall into
low-velocity regions; (d) seismic azimuthal anisotropy in the upper 200 km of the mantle. The directions of seismic anisotropy cor-
responding to the directions of material flow in the asthenosphere reveal a tendency to radial orientation relative to the plume stems.
(1) Projection of plume stem, (2) Late Cenozoic lava fields, (3) seismic stations and fast directions of anisotropy.

down of Pangea was controlled by a chain of mantle data and paleodynamic reconstructions [41, 51], this
plumes, it should be suggested that one of these plumes part of Eurasia was located at the polar latitudes and
was located at the northern end of the mid-ocean ridge periodically involved in within-plate reactivation
in the vicinity of the North Pole or, more likely, near the beginning from the Late Permian. The Siberian flood-
spreading Gakkel Ridge. basalt province, which started to form in the Late Per-
The available geological data on the formation his- mian–Early Triassic, embraced, in addition to the Sibe-
tory of the arctic portion of North Eurasia do not con- rian Platform, the Taimyr and New Siberian Islands,
tradict this suggestion. Judging from paleomagnetic and the Chukchi Peninsula. Basaltic eruptions in the

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


Kara Sea occurred in the Triassic and Early Jurassic. consistent with the mechanisms of magma generation
Rifting and formation of the Franz Josef volcanic pla- corresponding to such boundaries. Some differences
teau took place in the Late Jurassic and the Early Cre- are likely determined by a special regime of boundary
taceous. The Cretaceous and Cenozoic history of the formation. Their peculiarities are caused by the subduc-
Arctic Basin characterized above was also marked by tion of an enormous volume of lithospheric material
episodic within-plate activity. One such episode was beneath North Eurasia in the Late Cretaceous and Cen-
related to the formation of the large HALIP igneous ozoic (Figs. 4, 5) in combination with relatively con-
province, which comprised the Early Cretaceous stant location of subduction zones. It may be suggested
spreading magmatism of the Makarov Basin. The sec- that the storage of giant masses of cold subducted mate-
ond episode was the formation of the Late Cretaceous rial exceeding the overlying continental lithosphere in
Alpha–Mendeleev lava plateau; the third episode volume must be accompanied by certain geological
started 53 Ma ago and led to the rise of the Gakkel effects and reflected in recent volcanic activity. This
Ridge. Thus, the geological data testify to the active specific character is expressed, first of all, in the abun-
mantle beneath the arctic territories, which affected the dance of volcanic rocks having within-plate signatures
lithosphere in a pulsatory manner and periodically gave but occurring under atypical, as is supposed now, con-
rise to the formation of large igneous provinces related ditions of convergent boundaries. The possible mecha-
to the activity of mantle plumes. nisms controlling such specificity are considered
This concept does not contradict the localization of below.
volcanic rocks of elevated alkalinity in Arctica. Such To characterize these mechanisms, it is necessary to
volcanics are localized in the continental framework of discern the geodynamic settings of shallow-seated plate
the Gakkel Ridge beyond the active spreading center, tectonics (down to a depth of 660 km) and deep geody-
similarly to the same rocks in the framework of the Red namics that embraces the entire mantle down to layer D''
Sea and the Gulf of Aden, which opened above the Afar at the mantle–core interface. Deep geodynamics, cur-
plume. Finally, submarine eruptions dated at the second rently called plume tectonics, is governed by whole-
half of the 15th century, the first half of the 18th cen- mantle convection, which assumes sinking of the cold
tury, and 1957 are noted along the Lomonosov Ridge at subducted lithosphere deep into the mantle down to its
a distance of 192 km to the southwest of the North Pole boundary with the Earth’s core and compensating
[45]. The center of these eruptions was located at ascent of hot mantle flows in the form of superplumes
88°16′ N and 65°36′ W near a seamount at the spurs of and smaller plumes. The subducted lithosphere can
the Lomonosov Ridge, which towers by 1500 m above drown in the lower mantle only when the density of the
a bottom depth of 3000 m. Seismic activity is recorded buried mass exceeds the mantle density. This possibil-
here, and fragments of basaltic hornblende and volca- ity is realized not always and not immediately after sub-
nic glass have been found. This seamount is an inferred duction of the lithosphere into the transitional zone
active volcano. The De Long Rise [30] and the eastern- 410–660 km deep. Judging from the high-velocity seis-
most part of the Chukchi Peninsula are also regarded as mic anomalies established by global seismic tomogra-
presumable sites of plume location [1, 48, 49]. phy in the mantle beneath Eurasia and, to a lesser
Kamchatka is characterized by a predominance of extent, beneath America, considerable time is required
island-arc recent volcanism. At the same time, in the for transformation of the subducted lithosphere into
central part of the eastern shore of Kamchatka, where high-density aggregations. For example, the subduction
the Emperor Ridge is approaching, the indications of beneath Asia on the side of Pacific Ocean lasted for no
Cretaceous within-plate volcanism are pointed out as less than 450 Ma. In some localities, this process
evidence for the initial formation of this block in the started much earlier, during the breakdown of the Rod-
vicinity of the Hawaiian hotspot and its subsequent inia supercontinent and the formation of the Pacific
traveling along with the Pacific Plate toward East Asia Ocean. The last supercontinent, Pangea, formed largely
[16]. If this was the case, the Kamchatka Block with in the Permian and Triassic (Fig. 3), is retained in the
occurrences of within-plate volcanism was formed northern hemisphere until now (in its broad outlines)
under the effect of the Hawaiian mantle plume. with amalgamation of North America, Greenland, and
Eurasia. Indeed, the breakdown of North Pangea is
A general model of recent volcanic activity of manifested not only in the appearance of newly formed
North Eurasia. As was mentioned above, the regions oceanic crust [33] but also in the separation of North
of recent volcanism in North Eurasia are broadly con- America and Greenland (rift of the Nares Strait) or
trolled by boundaries of lithospheric plates. In the Arc- North America and Eurasia (rift of the Bering Strait).
tic Region, a divergent-type boundary and related mag- This disintegration, however, does not compare in
matism are localized in the spreading Gakkel Ridge and scope with the separation of South America, Australia,
its continental framework. and Antarctica, and this difference allows us to suggest
Recent volcanic regions are mostly controlled by the retention of the North Pangea supercontinent as an
convergent boundaries of lithospheric plates that intact mass. The Upper Paleozoic sediments of some
encompass North Eurasia in the south as a semiring. formerly existing basins have probably been retained
The character of the magmatism at these boundaries is since Panthalassa on the shelf of the Arctic Ocean [4,

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

352 KOVALENKO et al.

33]. The Barents Sea Basin, filled with Upper Paleozoic pheric material beneath the continent. Nevertheless, it
and Triassic sequences of immense thickness, is an is more reasonable to refer recent arctic volcanism to
example [33]. Precisely at that time, the lithospheric the activity of the aforementioned plumes (Fig. 8),
plates subducted to the transitional zone beneath this which gave birth to the Gakkel Ridge. Thus, recent
part of the supercontinent became able to sink at the basic volcanism of elevated alkalinity in the arctic part
mantle’s bottom with formation of a huge high-velocity of North Pangea is most likely caused by within-plate
seismic anomaly, or cold superplume [48, 49]. Since activity of mantle plumes, whereas tholeiitic volcanism
this moment, the system of global mantle convection is related to zones of shallower spreading.
has changed.
A more complicated situation arises with interpreta-
For reasons so far ambiguous, cold superplumes tion of the geodynamic nature of recent volcanism in
gave way to hot plumes and are followed by breakdown the southern tract of volcanic regions in North Eurasia.
of supercontinents. The breakdown of Pangea is a strik- The main point of contention regarding this interpreta-
ing example in this respect (Fig. 3). It is evident that tion is the cause of the formation of the mantle plumes
this process is controlled by the thermal state of the that produce basic magmatism of elevated alkalinity in
mantle beneath the supercontinent. Judging from the the part of North Eurasia underlain by a cold super-
data of seismic tomography, North Pangea is underlain plume. The simplest possible explanation is related to
mainly by cold mantle, whereas the piece of Pangea the mass balance in the lower mantle, when the cold
located in the southern hemisphere is underlain by hot material of subducted plates sinks to the mantle–core
mantle and therefore was fragmented into South Amer- interface or another deep-seated discontinuity. It is evi-
ica, India, Australia, and Antarctica. The northern part dent that this material must squeeze out a deep-seated
of the supercontinent remained relatively calm because hot material, and the latter will ascend as lighter hot
of ceaseless subduction of enormous masses of the cold plumes through the cooled mantle. As follows from the
lithosphere, which suppressed the hot mantle that structure of the mantle at the convergent boundaries in
existed beneath this part of the supercontinent as well. East and Southeast Asia [59], a part of compensating
The occurrence of the hot mantle related to the lower material ascends immediately near the convergent
mantle plume made itself felt by periodic breaching to boundary (Fig. 11), and the remainder is involved in
the surface at arctic latitudes. As was mentioned above, whole-mantle convection, compensating the consump-
such breaches resulted in the formation of Siberian pla- tion of material for the formation of a new crust in
teau basalts; the Jurassic rifting and magmatism in the MOR and activity of mantle hot spots. If the cold litho-
East Siberian and Chukchi seas and the arctic margin of spheric plates actually accumulated beneath Central
Alaska [33]; and the Cretaceous activity with formation Eurasia, North America, and Greenland at the mantle–
of the HALIP (see above). core interface (slab graveyard, after Maruyama), it is
The ongoing subduction beneath North Eurasia natural to assume that the hot material of the lower
from the east to the south did not permit progress in mantle or layer D'' would be squeezed out to the periph-
these processes. The prevalence of compression over ery of this graveyard, that is, to the southern periphery
extension was most obvious during the formation of the of North Eurasia, North America, and Greenland, i.e.,
Siberian flood basalt province. Despite the vigorous to the margin of the North Pangea supercontinent.
within-plate processes in North Eurasia 250 Ma ago, Miyashiro [50] referred this volcanism (remarkable, in
they did not lead to the breakup of the lithosphere and his terms) to a hot region of the mantle. As follows from
formation of a new ocean. Spreading was suppressed at the data of global seismic tomography, this suggestion
that time, as well as later, in the Early Cretaceous, when comes into conflict with the actual occurrence of cold
the evolution of the HALIP did not give rise to the mantle beneath Asia. Zhao [49, 59] supposed that Ter-
opening of a new ocean. Spreading reactivated only in tiary and Quaternary volcanism of East Asia is related
the Early Cenozoic in connection with opening of the to the formation of a big mantle wedge, whose dimen-
North Atlantic and development of the Iceland and Jan sions are determined not only by the zone of subduction
Mayen plumes. A new Eurasia Basin with the spreading of the Pacific Plate beneath Asia but also by near-hori-
Gakkel Ridge was opened about 53 Ma ago and the zontal extension of this zone in the transitional mantle
young Arctic Ocean started to evolve at that time [4]. at a depth of 410–660 km for almost 1500 km west-
Taking into account that the zones of continental ward. This idea in application to the Baikal region was
breakup are formed between mantle plumes [40], it developed by Zorin [7–9] (Fig. 12). It is inferred that
should be supposed that one more plume existed near dehydration of hydrosilicates retained in a stagnant slab
the eastern end of the Gakkel Ridge. As was suggested resulted in entering of fluids into the asthenosphere and
above, it could have been a younger mantle plume brought about its upwelling [61], which, in turn, gave
beneath the North Pole or a new pulse of the HALIP rise to the generation of basaltic magmas and rifting.
plume probably accompanied by other smaller plumes Because Central Mongolia and the Baikal region are
(De Long, Bering, etc.). In contrast to other spreading situated more than 1500 km to the west of the gently
basins of the world, the Arctic oceanic basin is smaller dipping stagnant slab, it is assumed that subduction is
in size and characterized by a low spreading rate, prob- accompanied by development of a convective cell elon-
ably as a result of ongoing accumulation of cold lithos- gated in the horizontal direction in the asthenosphere of

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


(a) (a)

0 Projections of
mantle plumes

0 1000
1000 300
1500 50

2000 B
2500 duction
3000 4000
0 (b) 2000 5000
1000 600 B
Ä 0

1500 100
h, k

2000 200

2500 273
–1 0 1 (100 ΔVp/V)
Alkali basalts Island-arc
(c) magmatism

–1% 0% +1% 0 Continental Lithosphere

Fig. 11. (a) Deep structure of the mantle at convergent Plume Fertilized peridotite
Depth, km

boundaries of the western Pacific Ocean, after [59], and 400

(b) a model of convective flows at these boundaries. Transitional
600 zone

800 Subducted slab

the mantle wedge [5]. It is suggested that the ascending
branch of this convective cell may be taken outside the 1000 Lower mantle
stagnant slab and, in particular, extend to the bottom of 1200
the Baikal Rift System and the highland of Central
Mongolia [7–9]. The batches of material emerging as an
ascending branch of convective flow must acquire an ener- Fig. 12. Structure of the mantle in East Eurasia and a model
getically advantageous droplike or columnar [55] config- of the formation of mantle plumes beneath the Baikal Rift
uration, in other words, behave as plumes (Fig. 12). Zone and the highland of Central Mongolia: (a) section line;
(b) mantle section, after [61]; and (c) a model, after [7–9].
This model does not rule out the aforementioned According to the model, the batches of heated and fertilized
peridotite are detached from a stagnant slab sinking into the
mechanism of balanced cold and hot mantle during the lower mantle. After separation, these batches emerge
sinking of slabs. The model assumes a certain relation- through the upper part of the transitional zone and are
ship between the plunging oceanic lithospheric plate involved in convection. The ascending branch of this con-
and intracontinental volcanic regions, which is not vection breaks into particular streams, which are regarded
observable in the surface regional geology. This model, as upper mantle plumes.
however, meets a number of contradictions. Thus, it is
hard to imagine how the composition and character of
magmatism and the unchanged location of volcanic subduction zones in East Asia was changed repeatedly
regions in the structure of the lithosphere could have with substantial recession for more than 1500 km from
been retained for 150 Ma if the configuration of the the Lesser Khingan in the Early Cretaceous to Japan at

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009

354 KOVALENKO et al.

Eurasia Pacific
North America Basin Eurasia superplume
Continental lithosphere Standard mantle
Transitional mantle Subducted lithosphere and
high-velocity cold mantle
Low-velocity hot mantle Mantle flow

Fig. 13. A geodynamic model of the formation of the North Pangea supercontinent.

present. It should also be kept in mind that igneous material and the cessation of convection in the hot man-
rocks typically have within-plate compositional signa- tle. The activity of the mantle plume in the Polar Region
tures without indication of island-arc specificity. of the Earth has been suppressed since the Late Per-
Finally, the concentration of volcanic activity in several mian; the material of the hot mantle has reached the
regions could not have been related to a single convec- Earth’s surface only sporadically. The recent phase of
tive system in the asthenosphere of a big mantle wedge. plume activity has given rise to the formation of the
It has been suggested that the mantle plumes in East Gakkel Spreading Ridge and to eruptions of within-
Asia bear a hydrous (0.2 wt % H2O in mantle source) plate alkali basalts scattered at the periphery of the oce-
anic basin. The low spreading rate in the Arctic Ocean
rather than thermal character owing to the intense dehy- testifies to the locking effect of the buried cold mantle
dration of a huge mass of subducted plates [49]. Smith on the activity of the hot mantle. We suggest that the
[52] explained this magmatism by its links to a DUPAL specificity of the magmatic processes at the convergent
source that arose in the metasomatized mantle wedge boundaries of North Eurasia was related to compensat-
formed as a result of subduction or ascent of hydrous ing convective motions of the mantle in the zones
mantle plumes due to the exsolution of wadsleyite into affected by subduction boundaries. The sinking lithos-
olivine and hydrous melt enriched in LILE at a depth of pheric plates are components of whole-mantle convec-
410 km. This idea is not yet supported by direct obser- tion. At the same time, the nonsteady state of the sub-
vations concerning the water content in basic magmas. duction branch of the convection loop and the occur-
The first available data on melt inclusions show that the rence of stagnant and fragmented slab segments give
melts were dry and the water content therein was not rise to the formation of additional convective cells and
higher than the average H2O concentration in OIB [13]. the ascent of hot mantle flows, which compensate the
Thus, the aforesaid allows us to accept the model of sinking lithospheric slabs.
mass balance in the mantle.
The formation of mantle plumes as a result of deep
In summary, the model of recent volcanism in North mantle convection was accompanied by collision- and
Eurasia may be presented as follows (Fig. 13). In the subduction-related shallow-seated magmatism in the
course of breakup of Pangea, its northern part was southern and eastern parts of North Eurasia. In the Arc-
retained as a large aggregation of continents, which can tic Region, deep-seated plume magmatism (basic rocks
be considered a supercontinent. The subduction along of elevated alkalinity) was accompanied by shallow
their common framework determined the stability of spreading magmatism (tholeiitic basalts).
this group of landmasses and prevented their fragmen-
tation. The volume of the supercontinent increases
along the convergent boundaries surrounding the stable CONCLUSIONS
platform of North Eurasia, and these boundaries were
crucial for the localization of volcanic regions. The (1) A GIS layout of the map of recent volcanism of
composition and mode of occurrence of recent volcanic North Eurasia has been compiled. Topographic and
rocks (except within-plate varieties) were controlled, to neotectonis maps, as well as maps of active faults and
a great extent, by the processes occurring at plate distribution of earthquake sources presented as separate
boundaries and by sublithospheric processes related to layers served as a structural base of the layout. Regions
the activity of mantle plumes. The long-term subduc- of recent volcanism projected on these maps provide
tion of lithospheric plates beneath Eurasia and North insights into the links of volcanic activity with indepen-
America led to the accumulation of cold lithospheric dent parameters of recent endogenic processes and

GEOTECTONICS Vol. 43 No. 5 2009


have allowed us to estimate the main trends in the evo- Atlantic and was responsible for the eruptions of tholei-
lution of recent volcanism in North Eurasia. itic and alkali basalts in Arctica. In southern and eastern
(2) Recent volcanism in North Eurasia occurs North Eurasia, the within-plate plume magmatism was
around the Russian and Siberian platforms—the largest accompanied by shallow-seated collision- and subduc-
ancient tectonic blocks of Eurasia—embracing the Arc- tion-related magmatism, whereas shallow-seated
tic Region of Eurasia and extending in its southern part spreading magmatism (eruptions of tholeiitic basalts)
from the Northeast and Far East of Russia via Central accompanied deep plume magmatism in Arctica.
Asia and the Caucasus toward West Europe.
(3) The asymmetry in the spatial distribution of ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
recent volcanism in North Eurasia is expressed in vari-
ation of the composition and geodynamic setting of This study was supported by the Russian Founda-
igneous rocks. The arctic part of North Eurasia is char- tion for Basic Research (project nos. 08-05-00347,
acterized by the occurrence of within-plate alkali and 08-05-00472) and the Presidium of the Russian Acad-
subalkali basalts on the islands of the Arctic Ocean and emy of Sciences (program no. 16).
the tholeiitic basalts in the Gakkel Ridge. The southern,
eastern, and western segments of the tract of recent vol-
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