Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 201–218

Compositions of immiscible liquids in volcanic rocks

  • A. R. Philpotts

DOI: 10.1007/BF00371350

Cite this article as:
Philpotts, A.R. Contr. Mineral. and Petrol. (1982) 80: 201. doi:10.1007/BF00371350


Immiscible liquids, preserved as chemically distinct, glassy globules, (Si-rich and Fe-rich) occur in many tholeiitic basalts and some alkaline and calcalkaline lavas. The glasses typically form part of a dark mesostasis containing skeletal magnetite crystals. In thick flows, the Si-rich liquid may crystallize to granophyric patches, and the Ferich one to aggregates of hedenbergite, magnetite, and accessory phases. The mesostases containing these immiscible phases constitute from 20% of a primitive olivine tholeiite (MgO=7.5%) to 50% of a highly fractionated quartz tholeiite (MgO=2.8%), but may be less if the rock is oxidized. Abundant ferric iron promotes early crystallization of magnetite and prevents the iron enrichment necessary to reach the immiscibility field; thus, aa flows rarely exhibit immiscibility, whereas the more reduced pahoehoe ones do.

Alumina and alkalis are concentrated in the Si-rich liquid, whereas the remainder of the major elements are concentrated in the Fe-rich melt; but the partitioning of Fe, Mg, Ca, and P is less pronounced in alkaline rocks than in tholeiites. Conjugate liquids have compositions of granite and Fe-rich pyroxenite, though the Si-rich melt in alkaline rocks is more syenitic and the Fe-rich one contains considerable normative alkali feldspar. The liquids coexist with plagioclase and augite of, respectively, An50 and Ca34Mg19Fe47 compositions in tholeiites, and An40 and Ca42Mg29Fe29 in alkaline rocks. Immiscibility is not restricted to K-rich residual liquids, but the miscibility gap is narrower for Na-rich compositions. In tholeiitic basalts with 52% SiO2, the Na2O/K2O ratios in conjugate liquids are equal, but at lower silica contents the Si-rich liquid is relatively more sodic, whereas at higher silica contents it is relatively more potassic. This may explain the association of sodic granites with mid ocean ridge basalts.

Immiscible liquids are present in sufficient amounts in so many volcanic rocks that magma unmixing should be considered a viable means of differentiation during the late stages of fractionation of common magmas, at least at low pressures.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. R. Philpotts
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Institute of Materials ScienceUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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