Magmatic Processes and Systems Deduced from Single Crystals
Abstract:When crystals grow in liquids the composition of their outermost layer will reflect that of the host with which they are in equilibrium and will therefore record the liquid composition, pressure and temperature..
Following separation from their sources, magmas differentiate. This change in liquid composition is driven largely by crystallisation in response to cooling or decompression. Other open system processes such as mixing and contamination are common. These can lead to abrupt changes in trace element and isotopic composition, accompanied by petrographic features, such as dissolution surfaces or zones of melt inclusions.
Where such careful mineral-scale studies have been performed, the prevalence of open system processes is clear. In many cases these are shown by core-rim isotopic variations. Crystal-scale compositional variations in the context of whole rock compositions and petrography have allowed us to show crustal assimilation even from regions of supposedly oceanic crust such as the Lesser Antilles.
In tandem with tracking magma evolution, core-rim analyses of appropriate crystals have also provided diffusion profiles which reflect timescales of magmatic processes. A key point, long recognised by Bruce Marsh, is that in situ geochemical data should be considered in a petrographic context in order to gain the most (and most credible) insights on the workings of magma systems from hand specimen to whole volcano/pluton scales: The petrographic microscope is not dead yet
Identification of magmatic processes from in situ scrutiny allows us to synthesise the architectures and inner workings of magma systems. The evidence for interaction among magmas in many systems is compelling and suggests that many exist as stacked dike-sill arrangements with wall-rock focussed crystal growth and mush zones. These are consistent with many of the systematics suggested some time ago by Bruce Marsh