The generation of strongly potassic melts in the mantle is generally thought to require the presence of phlogopite in the melting assemblage. In the Mediterranean region, trace element and isotope compositions indicate that continental crustal material is involved in the generation of many potassium-rich lavas. This is clearest in ultrapotassic rocks like lamproites and shoshonites, for which the relevant chemical signals are less diluted by extensive melting of peridotite. Furthermore, melting occurs here in young lithosphere, so the continental crust was not stored for a long period of time in the mantle before reactivation. We have undertaken two types of experiments to investigate the reaction between crust and mantle at 1000–1100 °C and 2–3 GPa. In the first, continental crustal metasediment (phyllite) and depleted peridotite (dunite) were juxtaposed as separate blocks, whereas in the second, the same rock powders were intimately mixed. In the first series, a clear reaction zone dominated by orthopyroxene was formed between dunite and phyllite but no hybridized melt could be found, whereas analyzable pools of hybridized melt occurred throughout the charges in the second series. Melt compositions show high abundances of Rb (100–220 ppm) and Ba (400–870 ppm), and consistent ratios of Nb/Ta (10–12), Zr/Hf (34–42), and Rb/Cs (28–34), similar to bulk continental crust. These experiments demonstrate that melts with as much as 5 wt% K2O may result from reaction between melts of continent-derived sediment and depleted peridotite at shallow mantle depths without the need for phlogopite or any other potassic phase in the residue.

You do not currently have access to this article.