Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 569–589 | Cite as

Experimental phase and melting relations of metapelite in the upper mantle: implications for the petrogenesis of intraplate magmas

  • Carl SpandlerEmail author
  • Greg Yaxley
  • David H. Green
  • Dean Scott
Original Paper


We performed a series of piston-cylinder experiments on a synthetic pelite starting material over a pressure and temperature range of 3.0–5.0 GPa and 1,100–1,600°C, respectively, to examine the melting behaviour and phase relations of sedimentary rocks at upper mantle conditions. The anhydrous pelite solidus is between 1,150 and 1,200°C at 3.0 GPa and close to 1,250°C at 5.0 GPa, whereas the liquidus is likely to be at 1,600°C or higher at all investigated pressures, giving a large melting interval of over 400°C. The subsolidus paragenesis consists of quartz/coesite, feldspar, garnet, kyanite, rutile, ±clinopyroxene ±apatite. Feldspar, rutile and apatite are rapidly melted out above the solidus, whereas garnet and kyanite are stable to high melt fractions (>70%). Clinopyroxene stability increases with increasing pressure, and quartz/coesite is the sole liquidus phase at all pressures. Feldspars are relatively Na-rich [K/(K + Na) = 0.4–0.5] at 3.0 GPa, but are nearly pure K-feldspar at 5.0 GPa. Clinopyroxenes are jadeite and Ca-eskolaite rich, with jadeite contents increasing with pressure. All supersolidus experiments produced alkaline dacitic melts with relatively constant SiO2 and Al2O3 contents. At 3.0 GPa, initial melting is controlled almost exclusively by feldspar and quartz, giving melts with K2O/Na2O ~1. At 4.0 and 5.0 GPa, low-fraction melting is controlled by jadeite-rich clinopyroxene and K-rich feldspar, which leads to compatible behaviour of Na and melts with K2O/Na2O ≫ 1. Our results indicate that sedimentary protoliths entrained in upwelling heterogeneous mantle domains may undergo melting at greater depths than mafic lithologies to produce ultrapotassic dacitic melts. Such melts are expected to react with and metasomatise the surrounding peridotite, which may subsequently undergo melting at shallower levels to produce compositionally distinct magma types. This scenario may account for many of the distinctive geochemical characteristics of EM-type ocean island magma suites. Moreover, unmelted or partially melted sedimentary rocks in the mantle may contribute to some seismic discontinuities that have been observed beneath intraplate and island-arc volcanic regions.


Experimental petrology Sediment melting Mantle heterogeneity Oceanic basalt Crustal recycling 



We thank Marc Hirschmann and an anonymous reviewer for thoughtful reviews. Marco Herwegh, Frank Brink and Kevin Blake provided assistance to the SEM and electron microprobe analyses. This work was supported by the Australian Research Council (DP0558189).

Supplementary material

410_2010_494_MOESM1_ESM.xls (30 kb)
Supplementary material (XLS 30 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carl Spandler
    • 1
    Email author
  • Greg Yaxley
    • 2
  • David H. Green
    • 2
  • Dean Scott
    • 2
  1. 1.School of Earth and Environmental SciencesJames Cook UniversityTownsvilleAustralia
  2. 2.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia

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