Chemical versus temporal controls on the evolution of tholeiitic and calc-alkaline magmas at two volcanoes in the Alaska-Aleutian arc

Rhiannon George*, Simon Turner, Chris Hawkesworth, Charles R. Bacon, Chris Nye, Pete Stelling, Scott Dreher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The Alaska-Aleutian island arc is well known for erupting both tholeiitic and calc-alkaline magmas. To investigate the relative roles of chemical and temporal controls in generating these contrasting liquid lines of descent we have undertaken a detailed study of tholeiitic lavas from Akutan volcano in the oceanic A1eutian arc and calc-alkaline products from Aniakchak volcano on the continental A1askan Peninsula. The differences do not appear to be linked to parental magma composition. The Akutan lavas can be explained by closed-system magmatic evolution, whereas curvilinear trace element trends and a large range in 87 Sr/86 Sr isotope ratios in the Aniakchak data appear to require the combined effects of fractional crystallization, assimilation and magma mixing. Both magmatic suites preserve a similar range in 226 Ra-230 Th disequilibria, which suggests that the time scale of crustal residence of magmas beneath both these volcanoes was similar, and of the order of several thousand years. This is consistent with numerical estimates of the time scales for crystallization caused by cooling in convecting crustal magma chambers. During that time interval the tholeiitic Akutan magmas underwent restricted, closed-system, compositional evolution. In contrast, the calc-alkaline magmas beneath Aniakchak volcano underwent significant open-system compositional evolution. Combining these results with data from other studies we suggest that differentiation is faster in calc-alkaline and potassic magma series than in tholeiitic series, owing to a combination of greater extents of assimilation, magma mixing and cooling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-219
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Aleutian arc
  • Magma differentiation
  • Time scales
  • Uranium-series


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