Geodynamics of rapid voluminous felsic magmatism through time

M. J. Pankhurst*, B. F. Schaefer, P. G. Betts

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Citations (Scopus)


Two end member geodynamic settings produce the observed examples of rapid voluminous felsic (rhyolitic) magmatism through time. The first is driven by mantle plume head arrival underneath a continent and has operated in an identifiable and regular manner since at least 2.45Ga. This style produces high temperature (≤1100°C), low aspect ratio rheoignimbrites and lavas that exhibit high SiO2/Al2O3 ratios, high K2O/Na2O ratios, and where available data exists, high Ga/Al2O3 ratios (>1.5) with high F (in thousands of parts per million) and low water content. F concentration is significant as it depolymerizes the silicate melt, influencing the magmas' physical behavior during development and emplacement. These rhyolites are erupted as part of rapidly emplaced (10-15Myr) mafic LIPs and are formed primarily by efficient assimilation-fractional crystallization processes from a mafic mantle parent. The second is driven by lithospheric extension during continental rifting or back arc evolution and is exclusive to the Phanerozoic. SLIPs (silicic large igneous provinces) develop over periods <40Myr and manifest in elongate zones of magmatism that extend up to 2500km, contrasting with the mafic LIP style. Some of the voluminous felsic magmas within SLIPs appear to have a very similar geochemistry and petrogenesis to that of the rhyolites within mafic LIPs. Other voluminous felsic magmas within SLIPs are sourced from hydrous lower crust, and contrast with those sourced from the mantle. They exhibit lower temperatures (<900°C), explosive ignimbrites with lower SiO2/Al2O3 ratios, and lower K2O/Na2O ratios. Rapid voluminous felsic magmatism represents both extreme examples of continental growth since the Archean, and also dramatic periods of crustal recycling and maturation during the Phanerozoic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-101
Number of pages10
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


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