Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 53, Issue 2, pp 71–104 | Cite as

An Al-spinel ultramafic-mafic inclusion suite and high pressure megacrysts in an analcimite and their bearing on basaltic magma fractionation at elevated pressures

  • J. F. G. Wilkinson


An analcimite sill, which intrudes Carboniferous sedimentary rocks northwest of the township of Barraba in northeastern New South Wales, is exceedingly rich in ultramafic and mafic inclusions and also contains a varied megacryst assemblage. The majority of inclusions belong to an ultramafic-mafic granulite suite whose members generally contain a Cr-poor green spinel. Layering is preserved in many inclusions and their textures are appropriate to those arising from recrystallization at subsolidus temperatures. Ultramafic granulites of the Al-spinel suite are mainly pyroxenites, with rarer lherzolites, and mafic granulites usually consist of the assemblage plagioclasea-luminous pyroxenes-spinel. Ca-rich tschermakitic clinopyroxenes and coexisting aluminous Ca-poor orthopyroxenes define a trend of moderate iron enrichment. Spinels also display significant Fe2+ → Mg substitution. Plagioclase in some plagioclase-bearing pyroxenites and mafic granulites contains numerous rod-like inclusions of spinel, compositionally similar to the discrete spinels unassociated with plagioclase. The formation of spinel in plagioclase is believed to have resulted largely from the migration of (Mg, Fe2+) to Al-rich nucleation sites in the feldspar.

Other inclusion types include Cr-spinel lherzolites —more Fe-rich than Cr-diopside lherzolite inclusions in alkaline volcanics — and rare wehrlite heteradcumulates, probably cognate with the host analcimite. The megacryst assemblage is dominated by anorthoclase megacrysts, which are accompanied, in order of decreasing abundance, by megacrysts of tschermakitic clinopyroxene, titanbiotite, kaersutite, and aluminous titanomagnetite.

The Al-spinel mafic granulites have low Ti, K and P contents and their petrochemical affinities are high-alumina mafic alkaline to transitional. They compare closely in major and minor element chemistry with some ocean ridge basalts. The Al-spinel ultramafic-mafic inclusions suite is interpreted as the remnants of a layered ultramafic-mafic “pluton ” which initially crystallized at pressures in the vicinity of 10 kb and subsequently re-equilibrated at subsolidus temperatures (ca 950° C) and comparable pressures. The parent magma was K-poor, ol-normative subalkaline and its fractionation at moderate pressures, controlled mainly by olivine and subcalcic clinopyroxene, resulted in decreases in the derivative liquids in their saturation levels and ol contents, and increases in Al and Ca. These trends are reflected in the compositions of the mafic granulites. The pressure regime of megacryst formation apparently was greater than 10–12 kb i.e. the megacrysts precipitated before acquisition of xenoliths of the Al-spinel granulite suite by the analcimite host. Anorthoclase fractionation produced only limited compositional changes in the original alkali basaltic melt.


Olivine Alkali Basaltic Mafic Granulite Ocean Ridge Basalt Magma Fractionation 
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© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. G. Wilkinson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of New EnglandArmidale

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