In order to limit the range of possible differentiation mechanisms and the impact of these processes on the trace element signatures of igneous suites, it is important to be able to predict or model the compositional evolution of the primary and/or parental magmas. Part of the problem in understanding these relationships in basalts from ocean islands is the paucity of reliable trace element mineral/melt partition coefficients, particularly for undersaturated magmas. Consequently, we have measured mineral/groundmass partition coefficients for Rb, Sr, Y, Zr, Nb, Hf, Ta, Th and REE, in situ, in clinopyroxene, Fe-Ti oxides and olivine in primitive basalts from Rarotonga, Cook Islands using LAM-ICP-MS.
Analyses of these mafic rocks show high concentrations of most incompatible trace elements (e.g. Sr, Th, Y, REE, etc.) in pyroxenes relative to the other phases, suggesting that fractionation of pyroxenes was the dominant factor in the distribution of these trace elements during crystal fractionation. In such cases, the highly incompatible elements (D <0.01) are Ba, Cs and Nb. Elements that could also be classified as strongly incompatible (D <0.1) are Rb, Ta and Th. The remaining trace elements have bulk partition coefficient values that range from ~0.1 up to ~0.8 (Sr, Hf, Zr, Y and REE). Magnetites incorporate greater amounts of Nb and Ta than the titanaugites, and any significant fractionation of magnetite would have affected the bulk distribution of Nb and Ta. The LREE have lower Kd values than other REE, with the HREE having Kd values close to unity. Consequently, with the separation of titanaugite an overall enrichment of REE in the residual liquid with an increase in the La/Yb ratio is produced.