Processes of silicic melt generation
Uranium-series isotopes provide important constraints on the timescale of magma differentiation and this can be used to identify where in the crust and silicic magmas acquire their geochemical characteristics. Timescales of differentiation can be inferred from the observed co-variations of U-series disequilibria with differentiation indexes. When crustal assimilation of secular equilibrium material is involved, inferred timescales will generally decrease. In turn, they will increase if periodical recharge (>20 wt% relative volume) of the magma body occurs. If crustal assimilation and magma recharge occur concurrently, inferred timescales for differentiation can be similar to that of closed system differentiation. We illustrate the approach with data from Mount St Helens which suggest that dacitic compositions are produced in c. 2000 years. Combining this with recent evidence for an important role for amphibole fractionation suggests that differentiation of a c. 10 km3 magma body at this volcanic centre occurs at 8–10 km depth in the crust.
Figures & Tables
Magmas are subject to a series of processes that lead to their differentiation during transfer through, and storage within, the Earth’s crust. The depths and mechanisms of differentiation, the crustal contribution to magma generation through wall-rock assimilation, the rates and timescales of magma generation, transfer and storage, and how these link to the thermal state of the crust are subject to vivid debate and controversy. This volume presents a collection of research articles that provide a balanced overview of the diverse approaches available to elucidate these topics, and includes both theoretical models and case studies. By integrating petrological, geochemical and geophysical approaches, it offers new insights to the subject of magmatic processes operating within the Earth’s crust, and reveals important links between subsurface processes and volcanism.