Trace element partitioning and accessory phase saturation during H2O-saturated melting of basalt with implications for subduction zone chemical fluxes

Kevin Klimm*, Jon D. Blundy, Trevor H. Green

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    265 Citations (Scopus)


    Experimental phase equilibrium and trace element partitioning data are reported for H2O-saturated mid-ocean ridge basalt at 2·5 GPa, 750-900°C and oxygen fugacities at the nickel - nickel oxide buffer. Garnet, omphacite and rutile are present at all temperatures. Amphibole and epidote disappear as residual phases above 800°C; allanite appears above 750°C. The Na - Al-rich silicate glass present in all run products is likely to have quenched from a supercritical liquid. Trace element analyses of glasses demonstrate the important control exerted by residual minerals on liquid chemistry. In addition to garnet, which controls heavy rare earth elements (HREE) and Sc, and rutile, which controls Ti, Nb and Ta, allanite buffers the light REE (LREE; La - Sm) contents of liquids to relatively low levels and preferentially holds back Th relative to U. In agreement with previous experimental and metamorphic studies we propose that residual allanite plays a key role in selectively retaining trace elements in the slab during subduction. Experimental data and analyses of allanite-bearing volcanic rocks are used to derive a model for allanite solubility in liquids as a function of pressure, temperature, anhydrous liquid composition and LREE content. The large temperature dependence of allanite solubility is very similar to that previously determined for monazite. Our model, fitted to 48 datapoints, retrieves LREE solubility (in ppm) to within a factor of 1·40 over a pressure range of 0-4 GPa, temperature range of 700-1200°C and for liquids with anhydrous SiO2 contents of 50-84 wt %. This uncertainty in LREE content is equivalent to a temperature uncertainty of only ± 27°C at 1000 K, indicating the potential of allanite as a geothermometer. Silicic liquids from either basaltic or sedimentary protoliths will be saturated in allanite except for Ca-poor protoliths or at very high temperatures. For conventional subduction geotherms the low solubility of LREE (+ Th) in liquids raises questions about the mechanism of LREE + Th transport from slab to wedge. It is suggested either that, locally, temperatures experienced by the slab are high enough to eliminate allanite in the residue or that substantial volumes of H2 O-rich fluids must pass through the mantle wedge prior to melting. The solubility of accessory phases in fluids derived from subducted rocks can provide important constraints on subduction zone thermal structure.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)523-553
    Number of pages31
    JournalJournal of Petrology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008


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