Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 115, Issue 4, pp 384–401 | Cite as

Mineralogical and geochemical study of granular xenoliths from the Alban Hills volcano, Central Italy: bearing on evolutionary processes in potassic magma chambers

  • M. Federico
  • A. Peccerillo
  • M. Barbieri
  • T. W. Wu


Granular xenoliths (ejecta) from pyroclastic deposits emplaced during the latest stages of activity of the Alban Hills volcano range from ultramafic to salic. Ultramafic types consist of various proportions of olivine, spinel, clinopyroxene and phlogopite. They show low SiO2, alkalies and incompatible element abundances and very high MgO. However, Cr, Co and Sc are anomalously low, at a few ppm level. Olivine is highly magnesian (up to Fo%=96) and has rather high CaO (1% Ca) and very low Ni (around a few tens ppm) contents. These characteristics indicate a genesis of ultramafic ejecta by thermal metamorphism of a siliceous dolomitic limestone, probably with input of chemical components from potassic magma. The other xenoliths have textures and compositional characteristics which indicate that they represent either intrusive equivalents of lavas or cumulates crystallized from variably evolved ultrapotassic magmas. One sample of the former group has major element composition resembling ultrapotassic rocks with kamafugitic affinity. Some cumulitic rocks have exceedingly high abundances of Th (81–84 ppm) and light rare-earth elements (LREE) (La+Ce=421–498 ppm) and extreme REE fractionation (La/Yb=288–1393), not justified by their modal mineralogy which is dominated by sanidine, leucite and nepheline. Finegrained phases are dispersed through the fractures and within the interstices of the main minerals. Semiquantitative EDS analyses show that Th and LREE occur at concentration levels of several tens of percent in these phases, indicating that their presence is responsible for the high concentration of incompatible trace elements in the whole rocks. The interstitial position of these phases and their association with fluorite support a secondary origin by deposition from fluorine-rich fluids separated from a highly evolved potassic liquid. The Nd isotopic ratios of the cjecta range from 0.51182 to 0.51217. 87Sr/86Sr ratios range from 0.70900 to 0.71036. With the exception of one sample, these values are lower than those of the outcropping lavas, which cluster around 0.7105±3. This indicates either the occurrence of several isotopically distinct potassic magmas or a variable interaction between magmas and wall rocks. However, this latter hypothesis requires selective assimilation of host rocks in order to explain isotopic and geochemical characteristics of lavas and xenoliths. The new data indicate that the evolutionary processes in the potassic magmas of the Alban Hills were much more complex than envisaged by previous studies. Interaction of magmas with wall rocks may be an important process during magmatic evolution. Element migration by gaseous transfer, often invoked but rarely constrained by sound data, is shown to have occurred during the latest stages of magmatic evolution. Such a process was able to produce selective enrichment of Th, U, LREE and, to a minor degree, Ta and Hf in the wall rocks of potassic magma chamber. Finally, the occurrence of xenoliths with kamafugitic composition points to the existence of this type of ultrapotassic magma at the Alban Hills.


Olivine Nepheline Wall Rock Leucite Magmatic Evolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Federico
    • 1
  • A. Peccerillo
    • 2
  • M. Barbieri
    • 1
  • T. W. Wu
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversity “La Sapienza”RomaItaly
  2. 2.Istituto di Scienze della TerraUniversity of MessinaMessina-S. AgataItaly
  3. 3.Department of GeologyUniversity of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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