Fractional crystallization of primitive, hydrous arc magmas: an experimental study at 0.7 GPa

  • Rohit H. Nandedkar
  • Peter UlmerEmail author
  • Othmar Müntener
Original Paper


Differentiation of mantle-derived, hydrous, basaltic magmas is a fundamental process to produce evolved intermediate to SiO2-rich magmas that form the bulk of the middle to shallow continental and island arc crust. This study reports the results of fractional crystallization experiments conducted in a piston cylinder apparatus at 0.7 GPa for hydrous, calc-alkaline to arc tholeiitic magmas. Fractional crystallization was approached by synthesis of starting materials representing the liquid composition of the previous, higher temperature experiment. Temperatures ranged from near-liquidus at 1,170 °C to near-solidus conditions at 700 °C. H2O contents varied from 3.0 to more than 10 wt%. The liquid line of descent covers the entire compositional range from olivine–tholeiite (1,170 °C) to high-silica rhyolite (700 °C) and evolves from metaluminous to peraluminous compositions. The following crystallization sequence has been established: olivine → clinopyroxene → plagioclase, spinel → orthopyroxene, amphibole, titanomagnetite → apatite → quartz, biotite. Anorthite-rich plagioclase and spinel are responsible for a marked increase in SiO2-content (from 51 to 53 wt%) at 1,040 °C. At lower temperatures, fractionation of amphibole, plagioclase and Fe–Ti oxide over a temperature interval of 280 °C drives the SiO2 content continuously from 53 to 78 wt%. Largest crystallization steps were recorded around 1,040 °C and at 700 °C. About 40 % of ultramafic plutonic rocks have to crystallize to generate basaltic–andesitic liquids, and an additional 40 % of amphibole–gabbroic cumulate to produce granitic melts. Andesitic liquids with a liquidus temperature of 1,010 °C only crystallize 50 % over an 280 °C wide range to 730 °C implying that such liquids form mobile crystal mushes (<50 % crystals) in long-lived magmatic systems in the middle crust, allowing for extensive fractionation, assimilation and hybridization with periodic replenishment of more mafic magmas from deeper magma reservoirs.


Liquid line of descent Fractional crystallization Calc-alkaline magmas Mid-crustal magma reservoirs 



The work is part of the ProDoc program “4-D Adamello” and was supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (grants PDFMP2-123097/1 and PDAMP2-123074). We would like to acknowledge Eric Reusser for his help using EPMA and Micro-Raman spectroscopy. Thoughtful comments by Tom Sisson on an earlier version of this manuscript are gratefully acknowledged. Constructive comments by two anonymous reviewers helped improve this manuscript.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOC 269 kb)
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rohit H. Nandedkar
    • 1
  • Peter Ulmer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Othmar Müntener
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Geochemistry and PetrologyZürichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Earth SciencesLausanneSwitzerland

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