Giant plagioclase growth during storage of basaltic magma in Emeishan Large Igneous Province, SW China

  • Li-Lu Cheng
  • Zong-Feng Yang
  • Ling Zeng
  • Yu Wang
  • Zhao-Hua Luo
Original Paper


Giant plagioclase basalts (GPBs) reflect the storage of flood basalt magma in subvolcanic magma chambers at crustal depths. In this study of the Late Permian Emeishan large igneous province in southwest China, we focus on understanding the plumbing system and ascent of large-volume basaltic magma. We report a quantitative textural analysis and bulk-rock geochemical composition of clustered touching crystals (CT-type) and single isolated crystal (SI-type) GPB samples from 5- to 240-m-thick flows in the Daqiao section. Both types of GPBs are evolved (<6 MgO wt%), but have high Ti/Y ratios (>500) and high total FeO content (11.5–15.2 wt%). The mineral chemistry of the two types of plagioclase displays a small range of anorthite content (<5 mol%), which is consistent with their unzoned characteristics. The two types of GPBs have S-type crystal size distributions but have quite different slopes, intercepts, and characteristic lengths. The characteristic lengths of the five flows are 1.54, 2.99, 1.70, 3.22, and 1.86 mm, respectively. For plagioclase growth rates of 10−11 to 10−10 mm/s, steady-state magma chamber models with simple continuous crystal growth suggest that CT-type plagioclase megacrysts have the residence time of about 500–6,000 years, whereas the residence time for SI-type plagioclase is significantly longer, about 1,000–10,000 years. By combining field geology, quantitative textural data with geochemistry, we suggest that CT- and SI-type crystals grew and were coarsened in the outer part and inner part of a magma chamber, respectively. Magma evolution during storage is controlled by crystallization, crystal growth, and magma mixing, and pulsating eruptions occur in response to the continuous supply of hot magma.


Emeishan large igneous province Giant plagioclase basalts Crystal size distributions Magma residence time 



This study was supported by the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program No. 2011CB808901) and the Geological Survey Program of China Geological Survey (1212011220921, 1212011085468, and 201211022). We are grateful to Yi-Gui Han, Chuan-Dong Xue, Geng-Rong Wang, and Shuai Dong for their help in the field. Laboratory assistance and discussions with Jiu-Long Zhou, Huan Wang, Jinhua Hao, and A-Peng Yu are appreciated. We appreciate the constructive comments from Michael D. Higgins and one anonymous reviewer and the editor, T.L.Grove. The manuscript was improved by the insightful reviews from Fidel Costa.

Supplementary material

410_2014_971_MOESM1_ESM.xls (41 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 41 kb)
410_2014_971_MOESM2_ESM.xls (31 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (XLS 31 kb)


  1. Ali JR, Thompson GM, Zhou M-F, Song X (2005) Emeishan large igneous province, SW China. Lithos 79(3–4):475–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armienti P, Perinelli C, Putirka KD (2013) A new model to estimate deep-level magma ascent rates, with applications to Mt. Etna (Sicily, Italy). J Petrol 54:795–813Google Scholar
  3. Beane JE, Turner CA, Hooper PR, Subbarao KV, Walsh JN (1986) Stratigraphy, composition and form of the Deccan Basalts, Western Ghats, India. Bull Volcanol 48(1):61–83CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Boorman S, Boudreau A, Kruger FJ (2004) The lower zone–critical zone transition of the Bushveld Complex: a quantitative textural study. J Petrol 45(6):1209–1235CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bryan SE, Peate IU, Peate DW, Self S, Jerram DA, Mawby MR, Marsh JS, Miller JA (2010) The largest volcanic eruptions on Earth. Earth Sci Rev 102(3–4):207–229CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cashman KV (1993) Relationship between plagioclase crystallization and cooling rate in basaltic melts. Contrib Mineral Petrol 113(1):126–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cashman KV, Marsh BD (1988) Crystal size distribution (CSD) in rocks and the kinetics and dynamics of crystallization II: Makaopuhi lava lake. Contrib Mineral Petrol 99(3):292–305CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chandrasekharam D, Mahoney JJ, Sheth HC, Duncan RA (1999) Elemental and Nd–Sr–Pb isotope geochemistry of flows and dikes from the Tapi rift, Deccan flood basalt province, India. J Volcanol Geoth Res 93(1–2):111–123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chung S-L, Jahn B-M (1995) Plume–lithosphere interaction in generation of the Emeishan flood basalts at the Permian–Triassic boundary. Geology 23(10):889–892CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chung SL, Jahn B, Genyao W, Lo CH, Bolin C (1998) The Emeishan flood basalt in SW China: a mantle plume initiation model and its connection with continental breakup and mass extinction at the Permian-Triassic Boundary, Mantle Dynamics and Plate Interactions in East Asia. Geodyn. Ser. AGU, Washington, DC, pp 47–58Google Scholar
  11. Cox KG (1980) A model for flood basalt vulcanism. J Petrol 21(4):629–650CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DeHoff RT (1991) A geometrically general theory of diffusion controlled coarsening. Acta Metall Mater 39(10):2349–2360CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Ghiorso M, Sack R (1995) Chemical mass transfer in magmatic processes IV. A revised and internally consistent thermodynamic model for the interpolation and extrapolation of liquid-solid equilibria in magmatic systems at elevated temperatures and pressures. Contrib Mineral Petrol 119(2–3):197–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. He B, Xu Y-G, Chung S-L, Xiao L, Wang Y (2003) Sedimentary evidence for a rapid, kilometer-scale crustal doming prior to the eruption of the Emeishan flood basalts. Earth Planet Sci Lett 213(3–4):391–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. He B, Xu Y, Campbell I (2009) Pre-eruptive uplift in the Emeishan? Nat Geosci 2(8):530–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Higgins MD (1994) Determination of crystal morphology and size from bulk measurements on thin sections: numerical modelling. Am Mineral 79:113–119Google Scholar
  17. Higgins MD (1996) Magma dynamics beneath Kameni volcano, Thera, Greece, as revealed by crystal size and shape measurements. J Volcanol Geoth Res 70(1–2):37–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Higgins MD (1998) Origin of anorthosite by textural coarsening: quantitative measurements of a natural sequence of textural development. J Petrol 39(7):1307–1323CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Higgins MD (2000) Measurement of crystal size distributions. Am Mineral 85(9):1105–1116Google Scholar
  20. Higgins MD (2006) Verification of ideal semi-logarithmic, lognormal or fractal crystal size distributions from 2D datasets. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 154:8–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Higgins MD (2009) The Cascadia megathrust earthquake of 1700 may have rejuvenated an isolated basalt volcano in western Canada: age and petrographic evidence. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 179(1–2):149–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Higgins MD (2011a) Quantitative petrological evidence for the origin of K-feldspar megacrysts in dacites from Taapaca volcano, Chile. Contrib Mineral Petrol 162(4):709–723CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Higgins MD (2011b) Textural coarsening in igneous rocks. Int Geol Rev 53(3–4):354–376CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Higgins MD, Chandrasekharam D (2007) Nature of Sub-volcanic Magma Chambers, Deccan Province, India: evidence from quantitative textural analysis of plagioclase megacrysts in the Giant Plagioclase Basalts. J Petrol 48(5):885–900CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hooper PR, Subbarao KV, Beane JE (1988) The giant plagioclase basalts (GPBs) of the western Ghats, Deccan Traps. Geol Soc India Memoir 10:135–144Google Scholar
  26. Kamenetsky VS, Chung S-L, Kamenetsky MB, Kuzmin DV (2012) Picrites from the Emeishan Large Igneous Province, SW China: a Compositional Continuum in Primitive Magmas and their Respective Mantle Sources. J Petrol 53(10):2095–2113CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lange RA, Frey HM, Hector J (2009) A thermodynamic model for the plagioclase-liquid hygrometer/thermometer. Am Mineral 94(4):494–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Li C, Tao Y, Qi L, Ripley EM (2012) Controls on PGE fractionation in the Emeishan picrites and basalts: constraints from integrated lithophile–siderophile elements and Sr–Nd isotopes. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 90:12–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lifshitz IM, Slyozov VV (1961) The kinetics of precipitation from supersaturated solid solutions. J Phys Chem Solids 19(1–2):35–50CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Lightfoot PC, Hawkesworth CJ, Hergt J, Naldrett AJ, Gorbachev NS, Fedorenko VA, Doherty W (1993) Remobilisation of the continental lithosphere by a mantle plume: major-, trace-element, and Sr-, Nd-, and Pb-isotope evidence from picritic and tholeiitic lavas of the Noril’sk District, Siberian Trap, Russia. Contrib Mineral Petrol 114(2):171–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Magee C, O’Driscoll B, Chambers AD (2010) Crystallization and textural evolution of a closed-system magma chamber: insights from a crystal size distribution study of the Lilloise layered intrusion, East Greenland. Geol Mag 147(03):363–379CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Marsh BD (1988) Crystal size distribution (CSD) in rocks and the kinetics and dynamics of crystallization. Contrib Mineral Petrol 99(3):277–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Marsh BD (1998) On the interpretation of crystal size distributions in magmatic systems. J Petrol 39(4):553–599CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Mills RD, Ratner JJ, Glazner AF (2011) Experimental evidence for crystal coarsening and fabric development during temperature cycling. Geology 39(12):1139–1142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mock A, Jerram DA (2005) Crystal size distributions (CSD) in three dimensions: insights from the 3D reconstruction of a highly porphyritic rhyolite. J Petrol 46(8):1525–1541CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Morgan DJ, Jerram DA (2006) On estimating crystal shape for crystal size distribution analysis. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 154(1–2):1–7CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Morgan DJ, Jerram DA, Chertkoff DG, Davidson JP, Pearson DG, Kronz A, Nowell GM (2007) Combining CSD and isotopic microanalysis: magma supply and mixing processes at Stromboli Volcano, Aeolian Islands, Italy. Earth Planet Sci Lett 260(3–4):419–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Putirka KD (2005) Igneous thermometers and barometers based on plagioclase + liquid equilibria: tests of some existing models and new calibrations. Am Mineral 90(2–3):336–346CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Putirka KD (2008) Thermometers and barometers for volcanic systems. Rev Mineral Geochem 69(1):61–120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Salisbury MJ, Bohrson WA, Clynne MA, Ramos FC, Hoskin P (2008) Multiple plagioclase crystal populations identified by crystal size distribution and in situ chemical data: implications for timescales of magma chamber processes associated with the 1915 Eruption of Lassen Peak, CA. J Petrol 49(10):1755–1780CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sen G (2001) Generation of Deccan Trap magmas. J Earth Syst Sci 110(4):409–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Shellnutt JG, Zhou M-F, Zellmer GF (2009) The role of Fe–Ti oxide crystallization in the formation of A-type granitoids with implications for the Daly gap: an example from the Permian Baima igneous complex, SW China. Chem Geol 259(3–4):204–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shellnutt JG, Wang K-L, Zellmer GF, Iizuka Y, Jahn B-M, Pang K-N, Qi L, Zhou M-F (2011) Three Fe–Ti oxide ore-bearing gabbro-granitoid complexes in the Panxi region of the Permian Emeishan large igneous province, SW China. Am J Sci 311(9):773–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Simakin AG, Bindeman IN (2008) Evolution of crystal sizes in the series of dissolution and precipitation events in open magma systems. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 177(4):997–1010CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sun S–S, McDonough WF (1989) Chemical and isotopic systematics of oceanic basalts: implications for mantle composition and processes. Geol Soc 42(1):313–345Google Scholar
  46. Ukstins Peate I, Bryan SE (2008) Re-evaluating plume-induced uplift in the Emeishan large igneous province. Nat Geosci 1(9):625–629CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Vance J (1969) On synneusis. Contrib Mineral Petrol 24(1):7–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Wagner C (1961) Theorie der Alterung von Niederschlägen durch Umlösen (Ostwald-Reifung). Zeitschrift für Elektrochemie, Berichte der Bunsengesellschaft für physikalische Chemie 65(7–8):581–591Google Scholar
  49. Williams E, Boudreau AE, Boorman S, Kruger FJ (2006) Textures of orthopyroxenites from the Burgersfort bulge of the eastern Bushveld Complex, Republic of South Africa. Contrib Mineral Petrol 151(4):480–492CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Xiao L, Xu YG, Mei HJ, Zheng YF, He B, Pirajno F (2004) Distinct mantle sources of low-Ti and high-Ti basalts from the western Emeishan large igneous province, SW China: implications for plume–lithosphere interaction. Earth Planet Sci Lett 228(3–4):525–546CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Xu Y, Chung S-L, Jahn B-M, Wu G (2001) Petrologic and geochemical constraints on the petrogenesis of Permian–Triassic Emeishan flood basalts in southwestern China. Lithos 58(3–4):145–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Yang Z-F (2012) Combining quantitative textural and geochemical studies to understand the solidification processes of a granite porphyry: Shanggusi, East Qinling, China. J Petrol 53(9):1807–1835CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zellmer GF, Blake S, Vance D, Hawkesworth C, Turner S (1999) Plagioclase residence times at two island arc volcanoes (Kameni Islands, Santorini, and Soufriere, St. Vincent) determined by Sr diffusion systematics. Contrib Mineral Petrol 136(4):345–357CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Zhang Z, Mahoney JJ, Mao J, Wang F (2006) Geochemistry of Picritic and Associated Basalt Flows of the Western Emeishan Flood Basalt Province, China. J Petrol 47(10):1997–2019CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Zhang Z, Zhi X, Chen L, Saunders AD, Reichow MK (2008) Re–Os isotopic compositions of picrites from the Emeishan flood basalt province, China. Earth Planet Sci Lett 276(1–2):30–39CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zhou M-F, Malpas J, Song X-Y, Robinson PT, Sun M, Kennedy AK, Lesher CM, Keays RR (2002) A temporal link between the Emeishan large igneous province (SW China) and the end-Guadalupian mass extinction. Earth Planet Sci Lett 196(3–4):113–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Zhou M-F, Robinson PT, Lesher CM, Keays RR, Zhang C-J, Malpas J (2005) Geochemistry, petrogenesis and metallogenesis of the Panzhihua gabbroic layered intrusion and associated Fe–Ti–V oxide deposits, Sichuan Province, SW China. J Petrol 46(11):2253–2280CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Zieg MJ, Marsh BD (2002) Crystal size distributions and scaling laws in the quantification of igneous textures. J Petrol 43(1):85–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Li-Lu Cheng
    • 1
  • Zong-Feng Yang
    • 1
  • Ling Zeng
    • 1
  • Yu Wang
    • 1
  • Zhao-Hua Luo
    • 1
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Geological Processes and Mineral ResourcesChina University of GeosciencesBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations