Bulletin Volcanologique

, Volume 29, Issue 1, pp 195–222 | Cite as

Lateral variation of basalt magma type across continental margins and Island Arcs

Première Partie Communications Lues Au « International Symposium On Volcanology » (Nouvelle-Zélande, Du 22 Nov. À 3 Déc. 1965)


Quaternary basalt magmas in the Circum-Pacific belt and island arcs and also in Indonesia change continuously from less alkalic and more siliceous type (tholeiite) on the oceanic side to more alkalic and less siliceous type (alkali olivine basalt) on the continental side. In the northeastern part of the Japanese Islands and in Kamchatka, zones of tholeiite, high-alumina basalt, and alkali olivine basalt are arranged parallel to the Pacific coast in the order just named, whereas in the southwestern part of the Japanese Islands, the Aleutian Islands, northwestern United States, New Zealand, and Indonesia, zones of high-alumina basalt and alkali olivine basalt are arranged parallel to the coast. In the Izu-Mariana, Kurile, South Sandwich and Tonga Islands, where deep oceans are present on both sides of the island arcs, only a zone of tholeiite is represented. Thus the lateral variation of magma type is characteristic of the transitional zone between the oceanic and continental structures. Because the variation is continuous, the physico-chemical process attending basalt magma production should also change continuously from the oceanic to continental mantle. Suggested explanations for the lateral variation assuming a homogeneous mantle are: 1) Close correspondence between the variations of depth of earthquake foci in the mantle and of basalt magma type in the Japanese Islands indicates that different magmas are produced at different depths where the earthquakes are generated by stress release: tholeiite at depths around 100 km, high-alumina basalt at depths around 200 km, and alkali olivine basalt at depths greater than 250 km. 2) Primary olivine tholeiite magma is produced at a uniform level of the mantle (100–150 km), and on the oceanic side of the continental margin, it leaves the source region immediately after its production and forms magma reservoirs at shallow depths, perhaps in the crust, where it undergoes fractionation to produce SiO2-oversaturated tholeiite magma, whereas on the continental side, the primary magma forms reservoirs near the source region and stays there long enough to be fractionated to produce alkali olivine basalt magma, and in the intermediate zone, the primary magma forms reservoirs at intermediate depths where it is fractionated to produce high-alumina basalt magma.


Basalt Magma Japanese Island Aleutian Island Primary Magma Olivine Basalt 
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Copyright information

© Stabilimento Tipografico Francesco Giannini & Figli 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Kuno
    • 1
  1. 1.Geological InstituteUniversity of TokyoTokyoJapan

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