Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 88, Issue 3, pp 217–232 | Cite as

Carbon dioxide in petrogenesis III: role of volatiles in the ascent of alkaline magma with special reference to xenolith-bearing mafic lavas

  • Frank J. Spera


Kinetic and fluid dynamic constraints on deep-seated magma migration rates suggest ascent velocities in the range 10 to 30 m/s, 10−1 to 10 m/s and 10−2 to 5 m/s for kimberlitic, garnet peridotite-bearing and spinel peridotite-bearing alkalic magmas. These rates virtually demand translithospheric magma transport by a fracture as opposed to diapiric mechanism. The hypothesis that volatile exsolution accelerates magma through the deep lithosphere is tested by solution of the appropriate set of conservation, mass balance and volatile component solubility equations governing the steady ascent (decompression) of compressible, two-phase magma (melt+H2O+CO2) in which irreversible phenomena (friction, heat transfer) are accounted for. The results of the numerical experiments were designed to test the importance of melt bulk composition (kimberlite, nephelinite, alkali basalt), initial conditions (mass flux (M), heat transfer coefficient (B), lumped friction factor (C f )), conduit width (D), initial magma volatile content and geothermal gradients. The fractional increase in ascent rate (Δu/u i ) is rarely greater than approximately 2 during translithospheric migration. The propellant hypothesis is rejected as a first-order mechanism driving magma acceleration during ascent. The most influential parameters governing ascent dynamics are M, C f , D, B and the geotherm. Because of the relatively incompressible nature of the magmatic volatile phase at P>100 MPa, the initial magma volatile content plays a secondary (although demonstrable) role. The main role of volatiles is in controlling the initial magma flux (M) and the magma pressure during ascent. In adiabatic (B=0) simulations, magma ascends nearly isothermally. Generally, however, the assumption of adiabaticity is a poor one especially for flow through narrow (0.5 to 2 m) conduits in old (cold) lithosphere at rates ∼10−1 m/s. The proposed fluid dynamic model is consistent with and complementary to the magma-driven crack propagation models. The generation of mantle metasomatic fluid is a corollary of the non-adiabatic ascent of volatile-bearing magma through the lithosphere. Magma heat death is an important process for the creation of mantle heterogeneity.


Heat Transfer Coefficient Lithosphere Mafic Lava Magma Pressure Metasomatic Fluid 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank J. Spera
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology and Geophysical SciencesPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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