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Igneous charnockites are characterised by distinctively high abundances of K2O, TiO2, P2O5 and LIL elements and low CaO at a given SiO2 level compared to metamorphic charnockites, and I-, S- and A-type granites. They form a distinctive type of intrusive igneous rocks, the Charnockite Magma Type (CMT or C-type), which generally lack hornblende and consist of pyroxene, alkali feldspar, plagioclase, quartz, biotite, apatite, ilmenite and titanomagnetite. Although this mineral assemblage superficially resembles that of metamorphic charnockites, magmatic charnockites are characterised by inverted pigeonite, exceptionally calcic alkali feldspar, potassic plagioclase, and coexisting opaque oxides, all with crystallisation temperatures of 950–1050°C. Apatite is a ubiquitous phase which, together with the very high concentrations of Zr and TiO2, over a wide silica range, is consistent with the derivation of the Charnockite Magma Type by very high temperature partial melting and fractionation.

The credibility of intrusive charnockites as a magmatic type has historically foundered because of their apparent restriction to granulite belts and the absence of any reported extrusive equivalents. We report examples of volcanic rocks, of various ages, with the same distinctive major and trace element compositions, mineral assemblages and high temperatures of crystallisation as intrusive charnockites.

The Charnockite Magma Type is considered to be derived by melting of a hornblende-free or poor, LILE-enriched fertile granulite source which had not been geochemically depleted by a previous partial melting event but which was dehydrated in an earlier metamorphism. Whereas H2O-saturated melting produces migmatites or “failed” granites, and vapour-absent melting of an amphibolite can produce I-type granites, according to this model the vapour-absent melting of a hornblende-free or hornblende-poor granulite at even higher temperatures produces charnockites.

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