Evidence for ascent of differentiated liquids in a silicic magma chamber found in a granitic pluton
Published:January 01, 1992
Gail A. Mahood, Paula C. Cornejo, 1992. "Evidence for ascent of differentiated liquids in a silicic magma chamber found in a granitic pluton", The Second Hutton Symposium on the Origin of Granites and Related Rocks, P. E. Brown, B. W. Chappell
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Fluid dynamic modelling of crystallising calc-alkalic magma bodies has predicted that differentiated liquids will ascend as boundary layers and that accumulation of these buoyant liquids near chamber roofs will result in compositionally stratified magma chambers. This paper reports physical features in La Gloria Pluton that can be interpreted as trapped ascending differentiated liquids. Leucogranitic layers decimetres thick, which are locally stratified, are trapped beneath overhanging wall contacts. The same felsic magmas were also preserved where they were injected into the wall rocks as dykes and as large sill complexes. These rocks do not represent differentiated magmas produced by crystallisation along the exposed walls because the felsic layers occur at the wall rock contact, not inboard of it. Rather, we speculate that evolved felsic liquids are generated by crystallisation all across the deep levels of chambers and that initial melt segregation occurs by flowage of melt into tension fractures. Melt bodies so formed may be large enough to have significant ascent velocities as diapirs and/or dykes. The other way in which the leucogranite occurrence is at variance with the convective fractionation model is that the ascending liquids did not feed a highly differentiated cap to the chamber, as the composition at the roof, although the most felsic in this vertically and concentrically zoned pluton, is considerably more mafic than the trapped leucogranitic liquids. This suggests that these evolved liquids were usually mixed back into the main body of the chamber. Backmixing may be general in continental-margin calc-alkalic magmatic systems, which, in contrast to those in intracontinental settings, rarely produce volcanic rocks more silicic than rhyodacite. That the highly differentiated liquids are preserved at all at La Gloria is a result of the unusual stepped nature of the contact and the entirely passive mode of emplacement of the pluton, which, in contrast to ballooning in place, does not result in wall zones being “scoured”.