, Volume 74, Issue 1, pp 7-12

Melt density and the average composition of basalt

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Abstract

Densities of residual liquids produced by low pressure fractionation of olivine-rich melts pass through a minimum when pyroxene and plagioclase joint the crystallization sequence. The observation that erupted basalt compositions cluster around the degree of fractionation from picritic liquids corresponding to the density minimum in the liquid line of descent may thus suggest that the earth's crust imposes a density filter on the liquids that pass through it, favoring the eruption of the light liquids at the density minimum over the eruption of denser more fractionated and less fractionated liquids.