Abstract

The island-arc volcanic rocks of Rabaul and Talasea, New Britain, range in composition from basalt through rhyolite. Rare-earth elements have been determined by mass-spectrometric isotope dilution in 16 samples. Chondrite-normalized rare-earth element patterns are distinct for each volcanic center, but all are relatively flat (Ce/YbE.F. = 1.1 to 3.0). Within each center, rare-earth element concentrations increase from basalt to dacite, and Eu anomalies become progressively more negative from basalt to dacite (Eu/Eu* = 1.0 to 0.8). Lavas inferred to contain cumulate phenocrysts show positive Eu anomalies (Eu/Eu* of up to 1.2). The observed variations are consistent with fractional crystallization of basalt or basaltic andesite by removal or accumulation of the observed phenocrysts, including olivine, plagioclase, pyroxene, and opaque minerals. Quantitative trace-element models for Talasea lavas indicate precipitation of 50 wt percent of phenocrysts from basalt to produce andesite and an additional 22 wt percent to produce dacite. A total-equilibrium model provides the best approximation to observed concentrations, implying that the process took place at a depth sufficient to allow slow cooling of the magma as precipitation proceeded. The “least fractionated” basalts and basaltic andesites are similar in rare-earth element pattern to those of corresponding type suites in other oceanic-island arcs, implying a widespread uniformity of source and process in the production of each magma type.

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