Experimental phase equilibrium studies of garnetbearing I-type volcanics and high-level intrusives from Northland, New Zealand

T. H. Green*

*Corresponding author for this work

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Rare garnet phenocrysts and garnet-bearing xenoliths occur in high-silica, metaluminous to peraluminous andesites and dacites (and their high-level intrusive quartz diorite equivalents) from a Miocene calc-alkaline province in Northland, New Zealand. These garnets are among the most Ca-rich (17-28 mol% grossular) garnets of igneous origin so far recorded in calc-alkaline suite rocks. Associated minerals are dominant hornblende and plagioclase and minor augite, occurring as phenocrysts in xenoliths and as inclusions in the garnet. This mineralogy points to the I-type character of the garnet-bearing host magma compositions, and contrasts this garnet occurrence with the more frequently recorded grossular-poor (3-10 mol%) garnets with hypersthene, plagioclase, biotite and cordierite, found in S-type volcanic and intrusive host rocks. Detailed experimental work on a glass prepared from one of the garnet-bearing dacites closely constrains the conditions under which the natural phenocryst and xenolith mineral assemblages formed. This work was conducted over a pressure-temperature range of 8-20 kbar, 800-1050°C with 3-10 wt% of added H2O, defining overall phase relationships for these conditions. Importantly, amphibole only appears at temperatures of 900°C or less and clinopyroxene at >900°C (with 3wt% H2O) . Orthopyroxene occurs with garnet at lower pressure (∼15 kbar with 3wt% H2O; ∼ <10 kbar with 5 wt% H2O). Absence of orthopyroxene from the natural garnet-bearing assemblages indicates pressures above these limits during crystallisation. Plagioclase is markedly suppressed (with respect to temperature) with increasing H2O content, and for pressures of 10-15 kbar, the maximum H2O content possible in the magma with retention of clinopyroxene and plagioclase together (as evident in xenoliths) is 5 - 6 wt%. Finally, the lack of quartz in any of the xenoliths suggests magma H 2O content higher than 3% (where quartz appears with amphibole at 900°C), since the quartz liquidus temperature decreases with increasing H2O content, and with decreasing pressure. In experiments with 5 wt% H2O, a quartz-free field of crystallisation of garnet-clinopyroxene- amphibole-plagioclase occurs between 10 and 15 kbar and temperatures between 850 and 900°C. In addition, detailed experimentally-determined garnet compositional trends, together with ferromagnesian mineral compositional data for specific experiments with 5wt% H2O added and run at 10-13 kbar and -900°C, suggest that the natural assemblages formed at these conditions. This implies that the parental dacitic magma must have been derived at mantle depths (the Northland crust is - 2 5 km thick), and any basaltic or basaltic andesite precursor must have contained -2-3 wt% H2O. The unique nature of the Northland volcanics and high-level intrusives, preserving evidence of relatively grossular-rich garnet fractionation in the high-pressure crystallisation history of an originally mantle-derived magma, is attributed to a combination of unusually hydrous conditions in the source region, complex tectonic history involving obduction and subduction, possible incorporation of crustal slivers in a mantle-crust interaction zone, and relatively thin ( - 2 5 km) crust.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-438
Number of pages10
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
Publication statusPublished - 1992


  • Calc-alkaline
  • High-pressure
  • Lower-crust
  • Mantle
  • Petrogenesis
  • Subduction
  • Xenoliths


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