Temporal variations in U-series Disequilibria in an active Caldera, Rabaul, Papua New Guinea

H. S. Cunningham*, S. P. Turner, A. Dosseto, H. Patia, S. M. Eggins, R. J. Arculus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Intra-caldera eruptions have been speculated to sample the last batches of magma remaining from earlier caldera-forming eruptions. Rabaul Caldera, New Britain, Papua New Guinea has erupted several times since the last caldera-forming eruption in ad 640, with the most recent intra-caldera eruptions in 1878, 1937-1941 and 1994-present from the Tavurvur and Vulcan vents. U-series isotopes, in conjunction with 87Sr/86Sr and 143Nd/144Nd, were analyzed on 16 samples collected from 1994 to 2001 to monitor short-term changes in magma composition to model magmatic processes and to test whether there is evidence of recent fresh magma input. Inflections on MgO diagrams imply that fractional crystallization is an important process in long-term magma evolution, and the homogeneity in 87Sr/86Sr and 143Nd/144Nd shows that assimilation of isotopically distinct material has not occurred. A vertical array on a 230Th-238U isochron diagram requires open-system behavior and could support a model of differentiation of multiple magma batches over 26 kyr. However, the presence of (226Ra/230Th) excesses requires introduction of new magma within the past 8000 years and is permissible of a model in which the currently erupting magmas were emplaced at or since the last caldera-forming event. Other than the presence of mafic enclaves in the 1878 and 1937 eruptions, no evidence exists to suggest open-system magma injection. Systematic variation in U-series disequilibria between 1994 and 2001 is lacking, which may indicate that the system is broadly in steady state or that the processes acting to produce the limited compositional variation have time scales that are too short to be resolved by Ra isotopes (i.e. are less than a few hundred years).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-529
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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