Some geochemical models for basaltic and more primitive rocks suggest that their parental magmas have assimilated tens of weight percent of crustal silicate wall rock. But what are the thermodynamic limits for assimilation in primitive magmas? We pursue this question quantitatively using a freely available thermodynamic tool for phase equilibria modeling of open magmatic systems—the Magma Chamber Simulator (https://mcs.geol.ucsb.edu)—and focus on modeling assimilation of wall-rock partial melts, which is thermodynamically more efficient compared to bulk assimilation of stoped wall-rock blocks in primitive igneous systems. In the simulations, diverse komatiitic, picritic, and basaltic parental magmas assimilate progressive partial melts of preheated average lower, middle, and upper crust in amounts allowed by thermodynamics. Our results indicate that it is difficult for any subalkaline primitive magma to assimilate more than 20–30 wt% of upper or middle crust before evolving to compositions with higher SiO2 than a basaltic magma (52 wt%). On the other hand, typical komatiitic magmas have thermodynamic potential to assimilate as much as their own mass (59–102 wt%) of lower crust and retain a basaltic composition. The compositions of the parental melt and the assimilant heavily influence both how much assimilation is energetically possible in primitive magmas and the final magma composition given typical temperatures. These findings have important implications for the role of assimilation in the generation and evolution of, e.g., ultramafic to mafic trans-Moho magmatic systems, siliceous high-Mg basalts, and massif-type anorthosites.

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