Using amphibole phenocrysts to track vapor transfer during magma crystallization and transport: An example from Mount St. Helens, Washington

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



In order to evaluate and further constrain models for volatile movement and vapor enrichment of magma stored at shallow levels, amphibole phenocrysts from 2004–2005 Mount St. Helens dacite were analyzed for major and selected trace elements (Li, Cu, Zn, Mn, and REE) and Li isotopes. Several recent studies have examined fluid-mobile trace element abundances in phencryst phases and melt inclusions as a means of tracking volatile movement within subvolcanic magmatic systems, and high Li contents in plagioclase phenocrysts from 1980 and 2004 Mount St. Helens dacites have been interpreted as evidence that shallow magma was fluxed by a Li-bearing vapor phase prior to eruption.

In amphibole phenocrysts, Zn and Mn behave compatibly, correlating to FeO and Al2O3, and show no systematic change with time. In contrast, Li and Cu abundances in amphibole vary by up to 3 orders of magnitude (7.6–1140 μg/g and 1.7 to 94 μg/g, respectively), and do not generally correlate with either major or trace elements. However, they do correlate moderately well (R2 = 0.54, >> 95% confidence) with each other and show systematic temporal variations that are opposite to those observed for plagioclase, precluding a simple 1-step diffusion model for Li enrichment. We propose a Diffusion-Crystallization Multi-Stage (DCMS) model to explain the temporal variations and co-variations of Li and Cu. In early erupted dacite (October–December 2004) profiles of Li isotopes in conjunction with measured 7Li intensities and core-to-rim increases in Li concentration are characteristic of Li diffusion into the amphiboles, consistent with prior models of plagioclase enrichment.

In amphiboles from 2005 dacite, average Li and Cu concentrations are high (∼ 260–660 μg/g and ∼ 29–45 μg/g, respectively) and in contrast to amphiboles from earlier-erupted dacite, correlate weakly with Al2O3 wt.%. Amphibole Al2O3 concentrations are an indicator of pressure, with high-Al amphiboles crystallizing at higher pressures, and we suggest that Li and Cu are partitioned into a fluid phase during ascent and crystallization of the magma so that amphiboles crystallizing at lower pressure have correspondingly lower Li and Cu concentrations. However, low Li and Cu in amphiboles from the dacite at the start of the eruption also require crystallization from a low Li–Cu bearing melt or residence times long enough for amphiboles to re-equilibrate with a Li–Cu depleted melt. Estimated residence times suggest that amphiboles in early dacite could have been present since the end of the 1980–1986 eruptive episode at Mount St. Helens.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Using amphibole phenocrysts to track vapor transfer during magma crystallization and transport: An example from Mount St. Helens, Washington
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.01.012
Volume 178
Issue 4
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 15 p.
First page 593
Last page 607
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