Abstract

The geometry of clinopyroxene-plagioclase-plagioclase junctions in mafic rocks, measured by the median dihedral angle Θcpp, is created during solidification. In the solidifying Kilauea Iki (Hawaii) lava lake, the wider junctions between plagioclase grains are the first to be filled by pyroxene, followed by the narrower junctions. The final Θcpp, attained when all clinopyroxene-plagioclase-plagioclase junctions are formed, is 78° in the upper crust of the lake, and 85° in the lower solidification front. Θcpp in the 3.5-m-thick Traigh Bhàn na Sgùrra sill (Inner Hebrides) is everywhere 78°. In the Whin Sill (northern England, 38 m thick) and the Portal Peak sill (Antarctica, 129 m thick), Θcpp varies symmetrically, with the lowest values at the margins. The 266-m-thick Basement Sill (Antarctica) has asymmetric variation of Θcpp, attributed to a complex filling history. The chilled margins of the Basement Sill are partially texturally equilibrated, with high Θcpp. The plagioclase grain size in the two widest sills varies asymmetrically, with the coarsest rocks found in the upper third. Both Θcpp and average grain size are functions of model crystallization times. Θcpp increases from 78° to a maximum of ∼100° as the crystallization time increases from 1 to 500 yr. Because the use of grain size as a measure of crystallization time is dependent on an estimate of crystal growth rates, dihedral angles provide a more direct proxy for cooling rates in dolerites.

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