Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 77, Issue 2, pp 129–149 | Cite as

Chemical evolution of a pleistocene rhyolitic center: Sierra La Primavera, Jalisco, México

  • Gail A. Mahood


The late Pleistocene caldera complex of the Sierra La Primavera, Jalisco, México, contains well-exposed lava flows and domes, ash-flow tuff, air-fall pumice, and caldera-lake sediments. All eruptive units are high-silica rhyolites, but systematic chemical differences correlate with age and eruptive mode. The caldera-producing unit, the 45-km3 Tala Tuff, is zoned from a mildly peralkaline first-erupted portion enriched in Na, Rb, Cs, Cl, F, Zn, Y, Zr, Hf, Ta, Nb, Sb, HREE, Pb, Th, and U to a metaluminous last-erupted part enriched in K, LREE, Sc, and Ti; Al, Ca, Mg, Mn, Fe, and Eu are constant within analytical errors. The earliest post-caldera lava, the south-central dome, is nearly identical to the last-erupted portion of the Tala Tuff, whereas the slightly younger north-central dome is chemically transitional from the south-central dome to later, moremafic, ring domes. This sequence of ash-flow tuff and domes represents the tapping of progressively deeper levels of a zoned magma chamber 95,000 ± 5,000 years ago. Since that time, the lavas that erupted 75,000, 60,000, and 30,000 years ago have become decreasingly peralkaline and progressively enriched only in Si, Rb, Cs, and possibly U. They represent successive eruption of the uppermost magma in the post-95,000-year magma chamber.

Eruptive units of La Primavera are either aphyric or contain up to 15% phenocrysts of sodic sanidine ≧quartz >ferrohedenbergite >fayalite>ilmenite±titanomagnetite. Whereas major-element compositions of sanidine, clinopyroxene, and fayalite phenocrysts changed only slightly between eruptive groups, concentrations of many trace elements changed by factors of 5 to 10, resulting in crystal/glass partition coefficients that differ by factors of up to 20 between successively erupted units. The extreme variations in partitioning behavior are attributed to small changes in bulk composition of the melt because major-element compositions of the phenocrysts and temperature, pressure, and oxygen fugacity of the magma all remained essentially constant.

Crystal settling and incremental partial melting by themselves appear incapable of producing either the chemical gradients within the Tala Tuff magma chamber or the trends with time in the post-caldera lavas. Transport of trace metals as volatile complexes within the thermal and gravitational gradient in volatilerich but water-undersaturated magma is considered the dominant process responsible for compositional zonation in the Tala Tuff. The evolution of the post-caldera lavas with time is thought to involve the diffusive emigration of trace elements from a relatively dry magma as a decreasing proportion of network modifiers and/or a decreasing concentration of complexing ligands progressively reduced trace-metal-site availability in the silicate melt.


Ilmenite Magma Chamber Fayalite Gravitational Gradient Caldera Complex 
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© Springer-Verlag 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gail A. Mahood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Geology, School of Earth SciencesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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