Understanding the origins of the mantle melts that drive voluminous silicic volcanism is challenging because primitive magmas are generally trapped at depth. The central Taupō Volcanic Zone (TVZ; New Zealand) hosts an extraordinarily productive region of rhyolitic caldera volcanism. Accompanying and interspersed with the rhyolitic products, there are traces of basalt to andesite preserved as enclaves or pyroclasts in caldera eruption products and occurring as small monogenetic eruptive centers between calderas. These mafic materials contain MgO-rich olivines (Fo79–86) that host melt inclusions capturing the most primitive basaltic melts fueling the central TVZ. Olivine-hosted melt inclusion compositions associated with the caldera volcanoes (intracaldera samples) contrast with those from the nearby, mafic intercaldera monogenetic centers. Intracaldera melt inclusions from the modern caldera volcanoes of Taupō and Okataina have lower abundances of incompatible elements, reflecting distinct mantle melts. There is a direct link showing that caldera-related silicic volcanism is fueled by basaltic magmas that have resulted from higher degrees of partial melting of a more depleted mantle source, along with distinct subduction signatures. The locations and vigor of Taupō and Okataina are fundamentally related to the degree of melting and flux of basalt from the mantle, and intercaldera mafic eruptive products are thus not representative of the feeder magmas for the caldera volcanoes. Inherited olivines and their melt inclusions provide a unique “window” into the mantle dynamics that drive the active TVZ silicic magmatic systems and may present a useful approach at other volcanoes that show evidence for mafic recharge.

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