An investigation has been made of the trace-element and Nd-isotopic effects of assimilation at the roof of the Proterozoic Kerns sill in the 2.2 Ga Nipissing diabase province in Ontario. The ratios Th/Zr, La/Zr, and U/Zr and the concentrations of incompatible elements all tend to increase with decreasing Mg#, Ni, and Cr. These variations have been simulated by computer models in which assimilation and fractionation are coupled (AFC) and the most fractionated magmas (identified by low Mg#, Ni, and Cr and by high incompatible-element concentrations) are also the most contaminated (indicated by higher Th/Zr, La/Zr, and U/Zr and lower 143Nd/144Ndo). The results suggest that the ratio (r) of the change of magma mass due to assimilation relative to the change due to fractionation gradually increased. The latent heat of crystallization may have contributed sufficient heat to melt the roof of the intrusion where ponded crustal melts were separated from the underlying basic magma by a double-diffusive interface. Field relations suggest that this interface was progressively destroyed by convective erosion; thus the degree of contamination increased as the magma became more fractionated. These results are consistent with laboratory investigations designed to simulate assimilation at the roof of basaltic magma chambers.

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