Multiphase inclusions in plagioclase from anorthosites in the Stillwater Complex, Montana: implications for the origin of the anorthosites

Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

DOI: 10.1007/BF00307866



Multiphase inclusions, consisting of clinopyroxene+ilmenite+apatite, occur within cumulus plagioclase grains from anorthosites in the Stillwater Complex, Montana, and in other rocks from the Middle Banded series of the intrusion. The textures and constant modal mineralogy of the inclusions indicate that they were incorporated in the plagioclase as liquid droplets that later crystallized rather than as solid aggregates. Their unusual assemblage, including a distinctive manganiferous ilmenite and the presence of baddeleyite (ZrO2), indicates formation from an unusual liquid. A process involving silicater liquid immiscibility is proposed, whereby small globules of a liquid enriched in Mg, Fe, Ca, Ti, P, REE, Zr and Mn exsolved from the main liquid that gave rise to the anorthosites, became trapped in the plagioclase, and later crystallized to form the inclusions. The immiscibility could have occurred locally within compositional boundaries around crystallizing plagioclase grains or it could have occurred pervasively throughout the liquid. It is proposed that the two immiscible liquids were analogous, n terms of their melt structures, to immiscible liquid pairs reported in the literature both in experiments and in natural basalts. For the previously reported pairs, immiscibility is between a highly polymerized liquid, typically granitic in composition, and a depolymerized liquid, typically ferrobasaltic in composition. In the case of the anorthosites, the depolymerized liquid is represented by the inclusions, and the other liquid was a highly polymerized aluminosilicate melt with a high normative plagioclase content from which the bulk of the anorthosites crystallized. Crystallization of the anorthosites from this highly polymerized liquid accounts for various distinctive textural and chemical features of the anorthosites compared to other rocks in the Stillwater Complex. A lack of correlation between P contents and chondrite-normalized rare earth element (REE) ratios of plagioclase separates indicates that the amount of apatite in the inclusions is too low to affect the REE signature of the plagioclase separates. Nevertheless, workers should use caution when attempting REE modelling studies of cumulates having low REE contents, because apatite-bearing inclusions can potentially cause problems. ?? 1993 Springer-Verlag.

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Multiphase inclusions in plagioclase from anorthosites in the Stillwater Complex, Montana: implications for the origin of the anorthosites
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