Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 98, Issue 3, pp 326–345 | Cite as

The petrology of some picrites from Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes, Hawaii

  • J. F. G. Wilkinson
  • H. D. Hensel


The mineralogy and chemistry of picrites from Mauna Loa and Kilauea have been investigated to evaluate, for Hawaiian tholeiitic picrites, the contrasting genetic models which have been proposed for these Mg-rich volcanics, namely products of direct crystallization of high-Mg melts (20–25% MgO) or the result of accumulation of olivine phenocrysts into less Mg-rich melts. Genetic interpretations rely heavily on Mg-Fe partitioning relations between olivines and their picrite hosts. Although the 100 Mg/(Mg + Fe2+) ratios (M) of picrites are wide-ranging (M=73.6–82.9 for Fe2O3/FeO=0.15), with MgO as high as 27.8%, the average 100 Mg/(Mg+Fe) ratios (mg) of the cores of olivine phenocrysts (megacrysts) show only restricted compositional variation (mg=87.2–89.0). Successive olivine generations are progressively more Fe-rich. Olivine/liquid Mg-Fe partitioning data and the Mn and Ni abundances in olivine phenocrysts collectively indicate that they were precipitated by Mg-rich basaltic melts with 12–14% MgO. Spinel compositions range from liquidus magnesiochromites, occurring mainly as inclusions in olivine phenocrysts, to groundmass titanomagnetites which crystallized at nearsolidus temperatures. The Cr2O3 contents and M values of liquidus magnesiochromites suggest that their parent melts were neither Mg-rich picritic (MgO>20%) nor relatively Mg-poor basaltic types.

On MgO variation diagrams (extending from approximately 7% to more than 25% MgO), Mauna Loa and Kilauea picrites and their respective microcrystalline/glassy groundmasses (the major component of quickly-cooled picrites) plot on linear regression lines (‘olivine control lines’). At a given MgO content, Kilauean picrites and tholeiites (M<75) generally contain more TiO2 FeOt, CaO, K2O and P2O5, and less SiO2 and Na2O than Mauna Loan types. The compositions of the groundmasses in picrites and Mg-rich ol-tholeiites equate closely with those of the Mg-poor tholeiites (7–9% MgO) which dominate the petrology of each shield.

Low-pressure closed system differentiation of Hawaiian tholeiitic magmas (10–15% MgO) can yield picritic derivatives which differ, however, from the extrusive picrites by virtue of distinctly higher FeOt contents and correspondingly more Fe-rich olivines and Cr-spinels.

The calculated Mg-Fe olivine megacryst-‘liquid’ partition coefficient KD for individual picrites indicate that lowpressure equilibria (KD=0.30–0.34) are defined only by melts with approximately 12–14% MgO (M∼ 71–74). Assessed in conjunction with Ni-MgO modeling, these data indicate that the more Mg-rich picrites (MgO> 14–15%) are indeed olivine-enriched and do not represent melt compositions. Olivine enrichment resulted from post-eruptive mechanical (flow) differentiation of extruded ‘mushes’ of intratelluric cognate olivine phenocrysts (mg∼88) and tholeiitic melts (M∼60), which are ‘residua’ of the parental magmas (12–14% MgO), following the crystallization of the olivine phenocrysts. The ‘parental’ magmas of both picrite suites were generated by 35–40% melting of relatively Fe-rich spinel lherzolites (mg∼84) containing kaersutitic amphibole as a major primary constituent.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aitken BG, Echeverria LM (1984) Petrology and geochemistry of komatiites and tholeiites from Gorgona Island, Columbia. Contrib Mineral Petrol 86:94–105Google Scholar
  2. Anderson AT, Wright TL (1972) Phenocrysts and glass inclusions and their bearing on oxidation and mixing of basaltic magmas, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Am Mineral 57:188–216Google Scholar
  3. Arculus RJ, Delano JW (1981) Intrinsic oxygen fugacity measurements: techniques and results for spinels from upper mantle peridotites and megacryst assemblages. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 45:899–913Google Scholar
  4. Arculus RJ, Dawson JB, Mitchell RH, Gust DA, Holmes RD (1984) Oxidation states of the upper mantle recorded by megacryst ilmenite in kimberlite and type A and B spinel lherzolites. Contrib Mineral Petrol 85:85–94Google Scholar
  5. Arndt NT (1986) Differentiation of komatiite flows. J Petrol 27:279–301Google Scholar
  6. Bargar KE, Jackson ED (1974) Calculated volumes of individual shield volcanoes along the Hawaiian-Emperor chain. J Res US Geol Survey 2:545–550Google Scholar
  7. Basaltic Volcanism Study Project (1981) Basaltic Volcanism on the Terrestrial Planets. Pergamon Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  8. Bickle MJ (1982) The magnesium content of komatiitic liquids. In: Arndt NT, Nisbet EG (eds) Komatiites 479–494. George Alien & Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  9. Bowen NL, Schairer JF (1935) The system MgO-FeO-SiO2. Am J Sci 29:151–217Google Scholar
  10. Budahn JR, Schmitt RA (1985) Petrogenetic modeling of Hawaiian tholeiitic basalts: a geochemical approach. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 49:67–87Google Scholar
  11. Carmichael ISE (1967) The iron-titanium oxides of salic volcanic rocks and their associated ferromagnesian silicates. Contrib Mineral Petrol 14:36–64Google Scholar
  12. Carmichael ISE, Ghiorso MS (1986) Oxidation-reduction relations in basic magma: a case for homogeneous equilibria. Earth Planet Sci Lett 78:200–210Google Scholar
  13. Carter NL (1971) Static deformation of silica and silicates. J Geophys Res 76:5514–5540Google Scholar
  14. Clarke DB, O'Hara MJ (1979) Nickel, and the existence of high-MgO liquids in nature. Earth Planet Sci Lett 44:153–158Google Scholar
  15. Cox KG (1980) A model for flood basalt vulcanism. J Petrol 21:629–650Google Scholar
  16. Cox KG (1984) The origin of voluminous and comparatively uniform flood basalt sequences. Indian Mineral (Sukheswala Vol): 1–5Google Scholar
  17. Donaldson CH (1976) An experimental investigation of olivine morphology. Contrib Mineral Petrol 57:187–213Google Scholar
  18. Echeverria LM (1980) Tertiary or Mesozoic komatiites from Gorgona Island, Columbia: field relations and geochemistry. Contrib Mineral Petrol 73:253–266Google Scholar
  19. Eggler DH (1983) Upper mantle oxidation state: evidence from olivine-orthopyroxene-ilmenite assemblages. Geophys Res Lett 10:365–368Google Scholar
  20. Elthon D (1979) High magnesia liquids as the parental magma for ocean floor basalts. Nature 278:514–518Google Scholar
  21. Elthon D, Ridley WI (1979) Comments on: The partitioning of nickel between olivine and silicate melt by SR Hart and KE Davis. Earth Planet Sci Lett 44:162–164Google Scholar
  22. Evans BW, Moore JG (1968) Mineralogy as a function of depth in the prehistoric Makaopuhi tholeiitic lava lake, Hawaii. Contrib Mineral Petrol 17:85–115Google Scholar
  23. Evans BW, Wright TL (1972) Compositions of liquidus chromite from the 1959 (Kilauea Iki) and 1965 (Makaopuhi) eruptions of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Am Mineral 57:217–230Google Scholar
  24. Fisk MR, Bence AE (1980a) Experimental crystallization of chrome spinel in FAMOUS basalt 527-1-1. Earth Planet Sci Lett 48:111–123Google Scholar
  25. Fisk MR, Bence AE (1980 b) Basalt cotectic boundaries as defined by experimentally determined crystallization paths of Kilauea and Mauna Loa basalts. Geol Soc Am Abs with Programs 426Google Scholar
  26. Ford CE, Russell DG, Craven JA, Fisk MR (1983) Olivine-liquid equilibria: temperature, pressure and composition dependence of the crystal/liquid cation partition coefficients for Mg, Fe2+, Ca and Mn. J Petrol 24:256–265Google Scholar
  27. Francis D (1985) The Baffin Bay lavas and the value of picrites as analogues of primary magmas. Contrib Mineral Petrol 89:144–154Google Scholar
  28. Green DH, Hibberson WO, Jaques AL (1979) Petrogenesis of midocean ridge basalts. In: McElhinney MW (ed) The Earth: Its Origin, Structure and Evolution. Academic Press London, pp 265–299Google Scholar
  29. Gunn BM (1971) Trace element partitioning during olivine fractionation of Hawaiian basalts. Chem Geol 8:1–13Google Scholar
  30. Haggerty SE, Tompkins LA (1983) Redox state of Earth's upper mantle from kimberlitic ilmenites. Nature 303:295–300Google Scholar
  31. Harris DM, Anderson AT (1983) Concentrations, sources, and losses of H2O, CO2 and S in Kilauean basalt. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 47:1139–1150Google Scholar
  32. Hart SR, Davis KE (1978) Nickel partitioning between olivine and silicate melt. Earth Planet Sci Lett 40:203–219Google Scholar
  33. Hart SR, Davis KE (1979) Reply to DB Clarke and MJ O'Hara “Nickel, and the existence of high MgO liquids in nature”. Earth Planet Sci Lett 44:159–161Google Scholar
  34. Helz RT (1987) Diverse olivine types in lava of the 1959 eruption of Kilauea volcano and their bearing on eruption dynamics. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 1350:691–722Google Scholar
  35. Hill R, Roeder P (1974) The crystallization of spinel from basaltic liquid as a function of oxygen fugacity. J Geol 82:709–729Google Scholar
  36. Hofmann AW, Feigenson MD, Raczek I (1984) Case studies on the origin of basalt: III. Petrogenesis of the Mauna Ulu eruption, Kilauea, 1969–1971. Contrib Mineral Petrol 88:24–35Google Scholar
  37. Irvine TN (1977) Definitions of primitive liquid compositions for basic magmas. Carnegie Inst Wash Yearb 76:454–461Google Scholar
  38. Jackson DB, Swanson DA, Koyanagi RY, Wright TL (1975) The August and October 1968 east rift eruptions of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 890Google Scholar
  39. Jaques AL, Green DH (1980) Anhydrous melting of peridotite at 0–15 kb pressure and the genesis of tholeiitic basalts. Contrib Mineral Petrol 73:287–310Google Scholar
  40. Kelley ML, Spiker EC, Lipman PW, Lockwood JP, Holcomb RT, Rubin M (1979) US Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia. Radiocarbon dates XV: Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes, Hawaii. Radiocarbon 21:306–320Google Scholar
  41. Kinoshita WT, Krivoy HL, Mabey DR, MacDonald RR (1963) Gravity survey of the island of Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 475-C:C114-C116Google Scholar
  42. Kinoshita WT, Koyanagi RY, Wright TL, Fiske RS (1969) Kilauea volcano: the 1967–68 summit eruption. Science 166:459–468Google Scholar
  43. Leeman WP, Scheidegger KF (1977) Olivine/liquid distribution coefficients and a test for crystal-liquid equilibrium. Earth Planet Sci Lett 35:247–257Google Scholar
  44. Leeman WP, Bahahn JR, Gerlach DC, Smith DR, Powell BN (1980) Origin of Hawaiian tholeiites: trace element constraints. Am J Sci 280-A:794–819Google Scholar
  45. Lehmann J (1983) Diffusion between olivine and spinel: application to geothermometry. Earth Planet Sci Lett 64:123–138Google Scholar
  46. Le Maitre RW (1981) GENMIX — a generalised petrological mixing model programme. Comput Geosci 7:229–247Google Scholar
  47. Lipman PW, Banks NG (1979) Mauna Loa south-west rift zone: field trip guide. US Geol Surv PublGoogle Scholar
  48. Maaløe S (1979) Compositional range of primary tholeiitic magmas evaluated from major element trends. Lithos 12:59–72Google Scholar
  49. Macdonald GA (1944) The 1840 eruption and crystal differentiation in the Kilauean magma column. Am J Sci 242:177–189Google Scholar
  50. Macdonald GA (1949a) Petrography of the island of Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 214-DGoogle Scholar
  51. Macdonald GA (1949b) Composition and origin of Hawaiian lavas. Mem Geol Soc Am 116:477–522Google Scholar
  52. Macdonald GA, Katsura T (1961) Variations in the lava of the 1959 eruption in Kilauea Iki. Pacific Sci 15:358–369Google Scholar
  53. Moore JG, Evans BW (1967) The role of olivine in the crystallization of the prehistoric Makaopuhi lava lake, Hawaii. Contrib Mineral Petrol 15:202–223Google Scholar
  54. Moore JG, Koyanagi RY (1969) The October 1963 eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 614-CGoogle Scholar
  55. Muir ID, Tilley CE, Scoon JH (1957) Contributions to the petrology of Hawaiian basalts I. The picrite-basalts of Kilauea. Am J Sci 255:241–253Google Scholar
  56. Murata KJ (1970) Tholeiitic basalt magmatism of Kilauea and Mauna Loa volcanoes of Hawaii. Naturwissenschaften 57:108–113Google Scholar
  57. Murata KJ, Richter DH (1961) Magmatic differentiation in the Uwekahuna laccolith, Kilauea caldera, Hawaii. J Petrol 2:424–437Google Scholar
  58. Murata KJ, Richter DH (1966 a) The settling of olivine in Kilauean magma as shown by lavas of the 1959 eruption. Am J Sci 264:194–203Google Scholar
  59. Murata KJ, Richter DH (1966b) Chemistry of the lavas of the 1959–60 eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 537-AGoogle Scholar
  60. O'Hara MJ (1968) Are ocean floor basalts primary magma? Nature 220:683–686Google Scholar
  61. Powers HA (1955) Composition and origin of basaltic magma of the Hawaiian Islands. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 7:77–107Google Scholar
  62. Raleigh CB (1968) Mechanisms of plastic deformation of olivine. J Geophys Res 73:5391–5406Google Scholar
  63. Ramsay WRH, Crawford AJ, Foden JD (1984) Field setting, mineralogy, chemistry and genesis of arc picrites, New Georgia, Solomon Islands. Contrib Mineral Petrol 88:386–402Google Scholar
  64. Rhodes JM (1983) Homogeneity of lava flows: chemical data for historic Mauna Loan eruptions. J Geophys Res 88 (Suppl):A869-A879Google Scholar
  65. Richter DH, Ault WU, Eaton JP, Moore JG (1964) The 1961 eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 474-DGoogle Scholar
  66. Richter DH, Murata KJ (1966) Petrography of the lavas of the 1959–60 eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 537-DGoogle Scholar
  67. Roeder PL, Emslie RF (1970) Olivine-liquid equilibrium. Contrib Mineral Petrol 29:275–289Google Scholar
  68. Roeder PL, Campbell IH, Jamieson HE (1979) A re-evaluation of the olivine-spinel geothermometer. Contrib Mineral Petrol 68:325–334Google Scholar
  69. Sato H (1977) Nickel content of basaltic magmas: identification of primary magmas and a measure of the degree of olivine fractionation. Lithos 10:113–120Google Scholar
  70. Sato M (1972) Intrinsic oxygen fugacities of iron-bearing oxide and silicate minerals under low total pressure. Mem Geol Soc Am 135:289–307Google Scholar
  71. Sigurdsson H, Schilling J-G (1976) Spinels in mid-Atlantic Ridge basalts: chemistry and occurrence. Earth Planet Sci Lett 29:7–20Google Scholar
  72. Swanson DA, Jackson DB, Koyanagi RY, Wright TL (1976) The February 1969 east rift eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 891Google Scholar
  73. Takahashi E, Kushiro I (1983) Melting of a dry peridotite at high pressures and basalt magma genesis. Am Mineral 68:859–879Google Scholar
  74. Thompson RN (1973) Titanian chromite and chromian titanomagnetite from a Snake River Plain basalt, a terrestrial analogue to lunar spinels. Am Mineral 58:826–830Google Scholar
  75. Thompson RN, Tilley CE (1969) Melting and crystallization relations of Kilauean basalts of Hawaii. The lavas of the 1959–60 Kilauea eruption. Earth Planet Sci Lett 5:469–477Google Scholar
  76. Tilley CE (1961) The occurrence of hypersthene in Hawaiian basalts. Geol Mag 98:257–260Google Scholar
  77. Tilley CE, Scoon JH (1961) Differentiation of Hawaiian basalts: trends of Mauna Loa and Kilauea historic magma. Am J Sci 259:60–68Google Scholar
  78. Tilling RI, Wright TL, Millard HT (1987) Trace-element chemistry of Kilauea and Mauna Loa lava in space and time: a reconnaissance. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 1350:641–689Google Scholar
  79. Wilkinson JFG (1985) Undepleted mantle composition beneath Hawaii. Earth Planet Sci Lett 75:129–138Google Scholar
  80. Wilkinson JFG (1986) Classification and average chemical compositions of common basalts and andesites. J Petrol 27:31–62Google Scholar
  81. Wilkinson JFG, Le Maitre RW (1987) Under mantle amphiboles and micas and TiO2, K2O and P2O5 abundances and 100 Mg/(Mg+Fe2+) ratios of common basalts and andesites: implications for modal mantle metasomatism and undepleted mantle compositions. J Petrol 28:37–73Google Scholar
  82. Wright TL (1971) Chemistry of Kilauea and Mauna Loa lava in space and time. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 735Google Scholar
  83. Wright TL (1973) Magma mixing as illustrated by the 1959 eruption, Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. Geol Soc Am Bull 84:849–858Google Scholar
  84. Wright TL (1984) Origin of Hawaiian tholeiite: a metasomatic model. J Geophys Res 89:3233–3252Google Scholar
  85. Wright TL, Weiblen PW (1968) Mineral composition and paragenesis in tholeiitic basalt from Makaopuhi lava lake, Hawaii. Geol Soc Am Spec Pap 115:242–243Google Scholar
  86. Wright TL, Kinoshita WT, Peck DL (1968) March 1965 eruption of Kilauea volcano and the formation of Makaopuhi lava lake. J Geophys Res 73:3181–3205Google Scholar
  87. Wright TL, Fiske RS (1971) Origin of the differentiated and hybrid lavas of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. J Petrol 12:1–65Google Scholar
  88. Wright TL, Swanson DA, Duffield WA (1975) Chemical compositions of Kilauea east-rift lava, 1968–71. J Petrol 16:110–133Google Scholar
  89. Wright TL, Peck DL, Shaw HR (1976) Kilauea lava lakes: natural laboratories for study of cooling, crystallization, and differentiation of basaltic magma. In: The Geophysics of the Pacific Ocean Basin and its Margin. Am Geophys Un Monograph 19:375–390Google Scholar
  90. Wright TL, Okamura RT (1977) Cooling and crystallization of tholeiitic basalt, 1965 Makaopuhi lava lake, Hawaii. Prof Pap US Geol Survey 1004Google Scholar
  91. Wyllie PJ (1984) Constraints imposed by experimental petrology on possible and impossible magma sources and products. Phil Trans R Soc Lond A310:439–456Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. G. Wilkinson
    • 1
  • H. D. Hensel
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of New EnglandArmidaleAustralia
  2. 2.Department of GeologyAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

Personalised recommendations