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Geological Sciences

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A wealth of geochemical and petrological data provide evidence that the processes of fractional crystallization, assimilation, and magma recharge (replenishment) dominate the chemical signatures of many terrestrial igneous rocks. Previous work [Spera and Bohrson, 2001; Bohrson and Spera, 2001] has established the importance of integrating energy, species and mass conservation into simulations of complex magma chamber processes. An extended version of the energy‐constrained formulation, Energy‐Constrained Recharge, Assimilation, Fractional Crystallization (EC‐RAFC), tracks mass and compositional variations of melt, cumulates, and enclaves in a magma body undergoing simultaneous recharge, assimilation, and fractional crystallization [Spera and Bohrson, 2002]. Because many EC‐RAFC results are distinct from those predicted by extant RAFC formulations, the primary goal of this paper is to present a range of geochemical and mass relationships for selected cases that highlight issues relevant to modern petrology. Among the plethora of petrologic problems that have important, well‐documented analogues in nature are the geochemical distinctions that arise when a magma body undergoes continuous versus episodic recharge, the connection between erupted magmas and associated cumulate bodies, the behavior of recharge‐fractionation dominated systems (RFC), thermodynamic conditions that promote the formation of enclaves versus cumulates, and the conditions under which magma bodies may be described as chemically homogeneous. Investigation of the effects of continuous versus episodic recharge for mafic magma undergoing RAFC in the lower crust indicates that the resulting geochemical trends for melt and solids are sensitive to the intensity and composition of recharge, suggesting that EC‐RAFC may be used as a tool to distinguish the nature of the recharge events. Compared to the record preserved in melts, the geochemical and mass characteristics of solids associated with particular RAFC events may record a more complete view of the physiochemical history of an open‐system magma body. The capability of EC‐RAFC to track melts and solids creates a genetic link that can be compared to natural analogues such as layered mafic intrusions and flood basalts, or mafic enclaves and their intermediate‐composition volcanic or plutonic hosts. The ability to quantify chemical and volume characteristics of solids and melts also underscores the need for integrated field, petrologic and geochemical studies of igneous systems. While it appears that a number of volcanic events or systems may be characterized by continuous influx or eruption of magma (“steady state systems”), reports describing compositional homogeneity for products that represent eruptions of more than one event are relatively rare. In support of this, EC‐RAFC results indicate that very specific combinations of recharge conditions, bulk distribution coefficients, and element concentrations are required to achieve geochemical homogeneity during cooling of a magma body undergoing RAFC. In summary, critical points are that EC‐RAFC provides a method to quantitatively investigate complex magmatic systems in a thermodynamic context; it predicts complex, nonmonotonic geochemical trends for which there are natural analogues that have been difficult to model; and finally, EC‐RAFC establishes the link between the chemical and physical attributes of a magmatic system. Application of EC‐RAFC promises to improve our understanding of specific tectonomagmatic systems as well as enhance our grasp of the essential physiochemical principles that govern magma body evolution.


This article was originally published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.


Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems


Copyright 2003 by the American Geophysical Union