, Volume 157, Issue 5, pp 593-607
Date: 08 Nov 2008

The magmatic plumbing system beneath El Hierro (Canary Islands): constraints from phenocrysts and naturally quenched basaltic glasses in submarine rocks

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Abstract

A thermobarometric and petrologic study of basanites erupted from young volcanic cones along the submarine portions of the three El Hierro rift zones (NE-Rift, NW-Rift and S-Ridge) has been performed to reconstruct magma plumbing and storage beneath the island. Mineral-melt thermobarometry applied to naturally quenched glass and clinopyroxene rims yields pressures ranging from 350 to 1070 MPa with about 80% of the calculated pressures being in the range of 600–800 MPa. This corresponds to a depth range of 19–26 km, implying that the main level of final crystal fractionation is within the uppermost mantle. No systematic dependence between sample locality and fractionation pressures could be observed. Olivine and clinopyroxene crystals in the rocks are complexly zoned and have, on an inter-sample as well as on an intra-sample scale, highly variable core and rim compositions. This can best be explained by mixing of multiply saturated (olivine, magnetite, clinopyroxene, ilmenite), moderately evolved magmas with more mafic magmas being either only saturated with olivine + spinel or with olivine + spinel + clinopyroxene. The inter-sample differences indicate derivation from small, isolated magma chambers which have undergone distinct fractionation and mixing histories. This is in contrast to oceanic intraplate volcanoes situated on plumes with high melt supply rates, e.g. Kilauea Volcano (Hawaii), where magma is mainly transported through a central conduit system and stored in a shallow magma chamber prior to injection into the rift zones. The plumbing system beneath El Hierro rather resembles the magma storage systems beneath, e.g. Madeira or La Palma, indicating that small, intermittent magma chambers might be a common feature of oceanic islands fed by plumes with relatively low fluxes, which results in only limited and periodic magma supply.

Communicated by J. Hoefs.