An experimental study of dissolution and precipitation of forsterite in a thermal gradient: implications for cellular growth of olivine phenocrysts in basalt and melt inclusion formation

  • Mickael LaumonierEmail author
  • Didier Laporte
  • François Faure
  • Ariel Provost
  • Pierre Schiano
  • Kazuhiko Ito
Original Paper


The morphology of crystals in magmas strongly depends on the temperature regime of the system, in particular the degree of undercooling and the cooling rate. To simulate low degrees of undercooling, we developed a new experimental setup based on thermal migration, in which large cylinders of forsterite (single crystals) immersed in haplobasaltic melt were subjected to a temperature gradient. As forsterite solubility is sensitive to temperature, the forsterite on the high-temperature side undergoes dissolution and the dissolved components are transported toward the low-temperature side where a layer of newly grown forsterite forms (up to 340 μm thick after 101 h). A striking feature is that the precipitation process does not produce a planar front of forsterite advancing at the expense of liquid: the growth front shows a fingered outline in planar section, with solid lobes separated by glass tubes that are perpendicular to the growth front. We ascribe this texture to cellular growth, a type of growth that had not been experimentally produced so far in silicate systems. We find that the development of cellular growth requires low degrees of undercooling (a few  °C) and large crystal–liquid interfaces (~ 1 mm across or more), and that it occurs at a growth rate of the order of 10−9 m/s. We found natural occurrences of cellular growth on the rims of olivines from basanites, but otherwise cellular textures are poorly documented in natural volcanic rocks. Melt inclusions were produced in our experiments, showing that they can form in olivine at relatively slow rates of growth (10−9 m/s or lower).


Crystal growth and dissolution Cellular growth Temperature gradient Melt inclusion formation Thermal migration 



The authors acknowledge the technical assistance of Jean-Luc Devidal, Jean-Marc Hénot, Franck Pointud, Antoine Mathieu, Jean-Louis Fruquière and Cyrille Guillot. Denis Andrault is thanked for stimulating discussions, Manon Hardiagon for sharing her unpublished data on the composition and phase diagram of the Na-CMAS starting glass, and Vladimir Antonoff for his help in the temperature calibration experiments. This research was financed by the French Government Laboratory of Excellence initiative number ANR-10-LABX-0006, Région Auvergne and the European Regional Development Fund. This is Laboratory of Excellence ClerVolc contribution number 359. We thank Y. Liang and Y. Zhang for their constructive reviews.

Supplementary material

410_2019_1627_MOESM1_ESM.xls (180 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (XLS 179 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Clermont Auvergne, CNRS, IRD, OPGC, Laboratoire Magmas et VolcansClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Université de Lorraine, CNRS, Centre de Recherches Pétrographiques et GéochimiquesVandoeuvre Les NancyFrance
  3. 3.Faculty of Bioenvironmental ScienceKyoto Gakuen UniversityKameokaJapan

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