Crystallization of oxidized, moderately hydrous arc basalt at mid- to lower-crustal pressures: Implications for andesite genesis

Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

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DOI: 10.1007/s00410-013-0920-3



This study focuses on the production of convergent margin calc-alkaline andesites by crystallization–differentiation of basaltic magmas in the lower to middle crust. Previous experimental studies show that dry, reduced, subalkaline basalts differentiate to tholeiitic (high Fe/Mg) daughter liquids, but the influences of H2O and oxidation on differentiation are less well established. Accordingly, we performed crystallization experiments at controlled oxidized fO2 (Re–ReO2 ≈ ΔNi–NiO + 2) on a relatively magnesian basalt (8.7 wt% MgO) typical of mafic magmas erupted in the Cascades near Mount Rainier, Washington. The basalt was synthesized with 2 wt% H2O and run at 900, 700, and 400 MPa and 1,200 to 950 °C. A broadly clinopyroxenitic crystallization interval dominates near the liquidus at 900 and 700 MPa, consisting of augite + olivine + orthopyroxene + Cr-spinel (in decreasing abundance). With decreasing temperature, plagioclase crystallizes, Fe–Ti-oxide replaces spinel, olivine dissolves, and finally amphibole appears, producing gabbroic and then amphibole gabbroic crystallization stages. Enhanced plagioclase stability at lower pressure narrows the clinopyroxenitic interval and brings the gabbroic interval toward the liquidus. Liquids at 900 MPa track along Miyashiro’s (Am J Sci 274(4):321–355, 1974) tholeiitic versus calc-alkaline boundary, whereas those at 700 and 400 MPa become calc-alkaline at silica contents ≥56 wt%. This difference is chiefly due to higher temperature appearance of magnetite (versus spinel) at lower pressures. Although the evolved liquids are similar in many respects to common calc-alkaline andesites, the 900 and 700 MPa liquids differ in having low CaO concentrations due to early and abundant crystallization of augite, with the result that those liquids become peraluminous (ASI: molar Al/(Na + K + 2Ca) > 1) at ≥61 wt% SiO2, similar to liquids reported in other studies of the high-pressure crystallization of hydrous basalts (Müntener and Ulmer in Geophys Res Lett 33(21):L21308, 2006). The lower-pressure liquids (400 MPa) have this same trait, but to a lesser extent due to more abundant near-liquidus plagioclase crystallization. A compilation of >6,500 analyses of igneous rocks from the Cascades and the Sierra Nevada batholith, representative of convergent margin (arc) magmas, shows that ASI increases continuously and linearly with SiO2 from basalts to rhyolites or granites and that arc magmas are not commonly peraluminous until SiO2 exceeds 69 wt%. These relations are consistent with plagioclase accompanying mafic silicates over nearly all the range of crystallization (or remelting). The scarcity of natural peraluminous andesites shows that progressive crystallization–differentiation of primitive basalts in the deep crust, producing early clinopyroxenitic cumulates and evolved liquids, does not dominate the creation of intermediate arc magmas or of the continental crust. Instead, mid- to upper-crustal differentiation and/or open-system processes are critical to the production of intermediate arc magmas. Primary among the open-system processes may be extraction of highly evolved (granitic, rhyolitic) liquids at advanced degrees of basalt solidification (or incipient partial melting of predecessor gabbroic intrusions) and mixing of such liquids into replenishing basalts. Furthermore, if the andesitic-composition continents derived from basaltic sources, the arc ASI–SiO2 relation shows that the mafic component returned to the mantle was gabbroic in composition, not pyroxenitic.

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Crystallization of oxidized, moderately hydrous arc basalt at mid- to lower-crustal pressures: Implications for andesite genesis
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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
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Volcano Science Center
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