The segregation of granitic magma from residual crystals at low melt-fraction is strongly dependent on the viscosity of the melt. Theoretical considerations imply that for the typical range of granitic melt viscosities (104Pas to 1011Pas) only very limited separation will be possible by a compaction mechanism over the typical duration of a crustal melting event (c. 106 years). Small-scale segregations (millimetre to metre) of the type observed in migmatite terranes may be generated by compaction (possibly assisted by continuous deformation), or by flow of melt into extensional fractures, but low melt-fraction liquids are unlikely to be extracted to form large (kilometre-size) granitic plutons because of the limited separation efficiency. At higher melt-fractions (>30%) the rapid decrease in strength and effective viscosity during partial melting allows other segregation processes to operate. Calculations and experiments indicate that in granitic systems the effective viscosity of partially melted rocks, having a very narrow melt fraction range of 30–50% will fall rapidly to levels at which convective overturn of kilometre-thick zones can occur. Convective motion within anatectic regions is capable of generating large (kilometre-size) homogeneous, high crystal-fraction, crustally-derived magma bodies, which are orders of magnitude greater in size than low melt-fraction segregates. Before convective instability is reached, small (centimetre- to metre-sized) pods of granitic liquid may rise buoyantly through, and pond at the top of such partly molten zones; such a process is consistent with the observation that some granulites appear to be residue rocks, chemically depleted in a minimum melt component. The effective viscosity (and hence the susceptibility to convection) of a partially melted zone within the crust, is strongly dependent on the water content of the system at a given pressure and temperature, because this controls both the quantity of melt generated and also the viscosity of the melt. The intrinsic water content of most crustal lithologies is incapable of promoting the high percentages of partial melting, or the low liquid viscosities, required to form large kilometre-sized granitic plutons by convective homogenization, at typical crustal temperatures. This suggests that the anatexis involved in the generation of large crustally-derived magma bodies has in many cases been promoted by an influx of externally derived aqueous fluid. These magma segregation processes are illustrated with respect to the petrogenesis of three different types of granitoid pluton from a Hercynian low-pressure, metamorphic-anatectic terrane in the Pyrenees.

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