Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 163, Issue 6, pp 1049–1068 | Cite as

Efficiency of compaction and compositional convection during mafic crystal mush solidification: the Sept Iles layered intrusion, Canada

Original Paper


Adcumulate formation in mafic layered intrusions is attributed either to gravity-driven compaction, which expels the intercumulus melt out of the crystal matrix, or to compositional convection, which maintains the intercumulus liquid at a constant composition through liquid exchange with the main magma body. These processes are length-scale and time-scale dependent, and application of experimentally derived theoretical formulations to magma chambers is not straightforward. New data from the Sept Iles layered intrusion are presented and constrain the relative efficiency of these processes during solidification of the mafic crystal mush. Troctolites with meso- to ortho-cumulate texture are stratigraphically followed by Fe–Ti oxide-bearing gabbros with adcumulate texture. Calculations of intercumulus liquid fractions based on whole-rock P, Zr, V and Cr contents and detailed plagioclase compositional profiles show that both compaction and compositional convection operate, but their efficiency changes with liquid differentiation. Before saturation of Fe–Ti oxides in the intercumulus liquid, convection is not active due to the stable liquid density distribution within the crystal mush. At this stage, compaction and minor intercumulus liquid crystallization reduce the porosity to 30%. The velocity of liquid expulsion is then too slow compared with the rate of crystal accumulation. Compositional convection starts at Fe–Ti oxide-saturation in the pore melt due to its decreasing density. This process occurs together with crystallization of the intercumulus melt until the residual porosity is less than 10%. Compositional convection is evidenced by external plagioclase rims buffered at An61 owing to continuous exchange between the intercumulus melt and the main liquid body. The change from a channel flow regime that dominates in troctolites to a porous flow regime in gabbros results from the increasing efficiency of compaction with differentiation due to higher density contrast between the cumulus crystal matrix and the equilibrium melts and to the bottom-up decreasing rate of crystal accumulation in the magma chamber.


Magma chamber Liquid migration Intercumulus liquid Plagioclase zoning Skaergaard Mushy layer 

Supplementary material

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© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de GéologieUniversité de LiègeLiègeBelgium
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  3. 3.Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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