Petrogenesis of the Campanian Ignimbrite: implications for crystal-melt separation and open-system processes from major and trace elements and Th isotopic data

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Book Chapter

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Geological Sciences

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The Campanian Ignimbrite is a large-volume trachytic to phonolitic ignimbrite that was deposited at ≈39.3 ka and represents one of a number of highly explosive volcanic events that have occurred in the region near Naples, Italy. Thermodynamic modeling using the MELTS algorithm reveals that major element variations are dominated by crystal-liquid separation at 0.15 GPa. Initial dissolved H2O content in the parental melt is ∼3 wt.% and the magmatic system fugacity of oxygen was buffered along QFM+1. Significantly, MELTS results also indicate that the liquid line of descent is marked by a large change in the proportion of melt (from 0.46 to 0.09) at ∼884°C, which leads to a discontinuity in melt composition (i.e., a compositional gap) and different thermodynamic and transport properties of melt and magma across the gap. Crystallization of alkali feldspar and plagioclase dominates the phase assemblage at this pseudo-invariant point temperature of ∼884°C. Evaluation of the variations in the trace elements Zr, Nb, Th, U, Rb, Sm, and Sr using a mass balance equation that accounts for changing bulk mineral-melt partition coefficients as crystallization occurs indicates that crystal-liquid separation and open-system processes were important. Th isotope data yield an apparent isochron that is ∼20 kyr younger than the age of the deposit, and age-corrected Th isotope data indicate that the magma body was an open system at the time of eruption. Because open-system behavior can profoundly change isotopic and elemental characteristics of a magma body, these Th results illustrate that it is critical to understand the contribution that open-system processes make to magmatic systems prior to assigning relevance to age or timescale information derived from such systems. Fluid-magma interaction has been proposed as a mechanism to change isotopic and elemental characteristics of magma bodies, but an evaluation of the mass and thermal constraints on such a process suggests large-scale interaction is unlikely. In the case of the magma body associated with the Campanian Ignimbrite, the most likely source of the open-system signatures is assimilation of partial melts of compositionally heterogeneous basement composed of cumulates and intrusive equivalents of volcanic activity that has characterized the Campanian region for over 300 kyr.


This book chapter was originally published in Volcanism in the Campania Plain: Vesuvius, Campi Flegrei and Ignimbrites. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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