1986 Volume 20 Issue 2 Pages 91-99
Seven new K-Ar age determinations are presented on whole rock samples from alkaline and tholeiitic basalts of the Higashi-Matsuura district, northwestern Kyushu, Japan. Ages obtained range from 2.92 ± 0.03Ma to 3.01 ± 0.04Ma; these ages are essentially identical within analytical errors and yield an average age of 2.98 ± 0.03Ma (Late Pliocene). When combined on an isochron type diagram the six Higashi-Matsuura samples give an age of 3.00 ± 0.03 Ma with the composition of nonradiogenic 40Ar/36Ar = 294.2 ± 2.0. The excellent age agreement of samples with different K contents and petrographic characteristics provides strong evidence that the tholeiitic and alkaline basalts were erupted for an extremely short period in the Higashi-Matsuura district. A basalt from Ogawashima Island yields a K-Ar age of 3.58 ± 0.04Ma. This study and previously reported data support the hypothesis that alkaline volcanic activity in southwestern Japan commenced some 10Ma ago and continued intermittently until Recent times. Systematic variations of age and distribution of Cenozoic alkaline basalts are recognized in northeastern China, Korea and southwestern Japan. It is suggested that these variations are related to the initiation of “mantle plumes” resulting from convection in the mantle wedge caused or controlled by subduction of the Kula and Pacific plates.