The two parallel chains of Hawaiian volcanoes ('Loa' and 'Kea') are known to have statistically different but overlapping radiogenic isotope characteristics. This has been explained by a model of a concentrically zoned mantle plume, where the Kea chain preferentially samples a more peripheral portion of the plume. Using high-precision lead isotope data for both centrally and peripherally located volcanoes, we show here that the 'two trends have very little compositional overlap and instead reveal bilateral, non-concentric plume zones, probably derived from the plume source in the mantle. On a smaller scale, along the Kea chain, there are isotopic differences between the youngest lavas from the Mauna Kea and Kilauea volcanoes, but the 550-thousand-year-old Mauna Kea lavas are isotopically identical to Kilauea lavas, consistent with Mauna Kea's position relative to the plume, which was then similar to that of present-day Kilauea. We therefore conclude that narrow (less than 50 kilometres wide) compositional streaks, as well as the larger-scale bilateral zonation, are vertically continuous over tens to hundreds of kilometres within the plume.
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