An experimental study of the role of partial melts of sediments versus mantle melts in the sources of potassic magmatism

Michael W. Förster*, Dejan Prelević, Stephan Buhre, Regina Mertz-Kraus, Stephen F. Foley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Potassium-rich lavas with K/Na of >2 are common in orogenic and anorogenic intraplate magmatic provinces. However, in the primitive mantle, the concentration of Na exceeds that of K by 10 times. The source of K-rich lavas thus needs to be either K-enriched or Na-depleted to account for high K/Na ratios. The geochemical and isotopic compositions of high 87Sr/86Sr post-collisional lavas show that their mantle source contains a recycled crustal component. These highly K-enriched lavas with crustal like trace element patterns are termed "orogenic lamproites" and are compositionally distinct from K-rich "anorogenic lamproites" that show lower 87Sr/86Sr and a trace element pattern that resembles that of primary mantle melts. For both groups the processes of K-enrichment within their source are uncertain and are thought to be linked to melts of sedimentary rocks for "orogenic lamproites" and low-degree melts of ultramafic mantle rocks for "anorogenic lamproites". In both cases, metasomatism of the mantle lithosphere is the precursor to K-rich magmatism. In this study we experimentally determine the effects of mantle metasomatism by sediment- and hydrous mantle melts. The experiments simulate the interaction of refractory lithospheric mantle and metasomatizing melt in a 2-layer reaction experiment. The sediment/dunite reaction experiments lead to formation of a strongly K-enriched phlogopite-pyroxenite layer sandwiched between the two starting materials. The low temperature of the sediment/dunite reaction runs at <1000 °C simulates a fore-arc subduction environment, in which the melts of sediment are consumed during interaction with dunite as the temperature is below the solidus of the produced phlogopite-pyroxenites. The hydrous mantle melt/dunite reaction run is simulated by reacting a hydrated basanite with dunite. Since the temperature of the reaction is higher than the solidus of the resulting phlogopite-pyroxenites (1200 °C), the hydrous melt is not consumed but flows further, increasing in K2O and K/Na as it reacts with the refractory peridotite. In both cases, melts are enriched in K and K/Na increases by crystallizing a low K and low K/Na eclogitic residue. Compositions of glass and phlogopite from both types of reactions are comparable to glasses and phlogopites found within post-collisional lavas. Since the enrichment of K within the reaction zone is strongly controlled by the formation of low K/Na and low-K residues, metasomatic enrichment of the mantle lithosphere in K does not need a highly K-enriched metasomatic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)76-88
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Asian Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • Lamproite
  • High-pressure experiments
  • Metasomatism
  • Post-collisional magmatism
  • Mediterranean magmatism
  • High-K lavas


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