Deciphering multistage crystal histories in Arc magmas

Norman Pearson, Simon Turner, Rhiannon George, Kim Berlo

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    Discrepancy between crystal ages derived by short-lived chronometers with vastly differing half-lives is one manifestation of the potential for complex, multistage evolution of phenocrysts in arc magmatic systems. Deciphering these processes is critical for estimating realistic crystal histories and, ultimately, the physical mechanisms of differentiation. Some of the biggest chronological discrepancies are evident in the andesitic compositional range, the most ubiquitous material erupted at arcs. In some systems, such as Sangeang Api in the Sunda arc, U-Th and Ra-Th systematics of bulk plagioclase separates are not in conflict and indicate that differentiation occurred over several 1000 years via crystallization due to cooling in the lower crust. Here, 210Pb data indicate significant degassing occurred in the decade prior to eruption but post-dated phenocryst growth and magma differentiation. Combined textural and U-Th-Ra isotope approaches often, however, provide compelling evidence that plagioclase phenocrysts contain old cores and thus are zoned in both age and composition. One of the best examples of apparently conflicting time-scale information comes from Soufriere volcano on St. Vincent in the Lesser Antilles. U-Th isotopes analyses of bulk plagioclase separates conflict with whole-rock and mineral Ra-Th disequilibria and attest to non-linear growth histories, and involvement of recycled cumulates upon which renewed crystal growth has taken place. We augment this well-constrained case study with new in situ Sr isotope analyses for one of the Soufriere lavas and a cumulate xenolith erupted in 1979. Significant isotope heterogeneity is observed, and complimentary isotope variations exist between cumulate xenolith and lava plagioclase phenocryst cores, lending further support to the model of heterogeneous core-rim evolution in the Soufriere system. We conclude that mineral time scales should always be cross-examined with other textural and/or isotope techniques where possible.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2005
    Event2005 AGU Fall Meeting - San Francisco, USA, United States
    Duration: 5 Dec 20059 Dec 2005


    Conference2005 AGU Fall Meeting
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CitySan Francisco, USA


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