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Geochemical variations in Andean basaltic and silicic lavas from the Villarrica-Lanin volcanic chain (39.5° S): an evaluation of source heterogeneity, fractional crystallization and crustal assimilation


At 39.5° S in the southern volcanic zone of the Andes three Pleistocene-recent stratovolcanoes, Villarrica, Quetrupillan and Lanin, form a trend perpendicular to the strike of the Andes, 275 to 325 km from the Peru-Chile trench. Basalts from Villarrica and Lanin are geochemically distinct; the latter have higher incompatible element abundances and La/Sm but lower Ba/La and alkali metal/La ratios. These differences are consistent with our previously proposed models involving: a) a west to east decrease in an alkali metal-rich, high Ba/La slab-derived component which causes an across strike decrease in degree of melting; or b) a west to east increase in the contamination of subduction-related magma by enriched subcontinental lithospheric mantle. Silicic and mafic lavas from the stratovolcanoes have overlapping Sr, Nd and O isotopic ratios. Silicic lavas also have geochemical differences that parallel those of their associated basalts, e.g., rhyolite from Villarrica has lower La/Sm and incompatible element contents than high-SiO2 andesite from Lanin. At each volcano the most silicic lavas can be modelled by closed system fractional crystallization while andesites are best explained by magma mixing. Apparently crustal contamination was not an important process in deriving the evolved lavas. Basaltic flows from small scoria cones, 20–35 km from Villarrica volcano have high incompatible element contents and low Ba/La, like Lanin basalts, but trend to higher K/Rb (356–855) and lower 87Sr/ 86Sr (0.70361–0.70400) than basalts from either stratovolcano. However all basalts have similar Nd, Pb and O isotope ratios. The best explanation for the unique features of the cones is that the sources of SVZ magmas, e.g., slab-derived fluids or melts of the subcontinental lithospheric mantle, have varying alkali metal and radiogenic Sr contents. These heterogeneities are not manifested in stratovolcano basalts because of extensive subcrustal pooling and mixing. This model is preferable to one involving crustal contamination because it can account for variable Sr isotope ratios and uniform Nd and Pb isotope ratios among the basalts, and the divergence of the cones from across-strike geochemical trends defined by the stratovolcanoes.

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Correspondence to Rosemary Hickey -Vargas.

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Hickey -Vargas, R., Roa, H.M., Escobar, L.L. et al. Geochemical variations in Andean basaltic and silicic lavas from the Villarrica-Lanin volcanic chain (39.5° S): an evaluation of source heterogeneity, fractional crystallization and crustal assimilation. Contr. Mineral. and Petrol. 103, 361–386 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00402922

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  • Fractional Crystallization
  • 86Sr
  • Crustal Contamination
  • Scoria Cone
  • Lanin