238U- and 232Th-decay series constraints on the timescales of crystal fractionation to produce the phonolite erupted in 2004 near Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean

Mark K. Reagan*, Simon Turner, Matthew Legg, Kenneth W W Sims, Victoria L. Hards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Phonolite pumice found floating offshore of Tristan da Cunha following intense seismic activity southeast of the island July 29-30, 2004 was analyzed for 238U- and 232Th-series nuclides to determine initial 230Th, 226Ra, 210Pb, 210Po, 228Ra, and 228Th activities. The initial (210Po/210Pb) value of 0.15 for the phonolite shows that, like most subaerial lavas, this subaqueous tephra degassed most of its 210Po upon eruption. The (230Th/232Th) and (238U/232Th) values for the phonolite are similar to those of the trachyandesites erupted in 1961 from Tristan da Cunha. However, the relative activities of 210Pb, 226Ra, and 230Th in the phonolite contrast with those of the trachyandesites, in that 210Pb and 230Th are both strongly enriched with respect to 226Ra. In addition, the phonolite had a small deficit in 228Ra with respect to 232Th. The Ra deficits likely resulted from partitioning into feldspars and hornblende in a time frame that extended over several decades to a century. These disequilibria can be explained by crystal fractionation at a decreasing rate through time at an average of 3-5 × 10-3 year-1. The calculated crystallization rate is about an order of magnitude faster than has been calculated for most other phonolites and trachytes, and about half that calculated for crystallization of the Makaopuhi lava lake. These data imply that the 2004 magma was not the differentiated cap of a much larger body that remained at depth. Instead, it was likely the residue of a relatively small body of more mafic magma that was injected into the crust southeast Tristan and underwent extensive and rapid crystal fractionation before it erupted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4367-4378
Number of pages12
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2008


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