Applications of Melt Inclusions to Problems in Igneous Petrogenesis

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Virginia Tech


Understanding the different igneous processes that magmas undergo is important for a variety of reasons including potential hazards associated with volcanoes in populated regions, magmatic hydrothermal ore deposition, and tectonic processes. One method of obtaining geochemical data that can help constrain petrogenetic processes is through the study of melt and fluid inclusions. The research presented here examines melt inclusions through experimental, analytical and field studies to better understand igneous petrogenesis.

One potential problem associated with melt inclusions is water-loss during laboratory heating. A Raman spectroscopic technique was developed to determine water contents of silicate glasses, and this technique was applied to monitor water loss from natural melt inclusions that were heated for varying lengths of time. The results suggest that water loss is insignificant when heated for less than 12 hours but significant water loss can occur with longer duration heating.

The distribution of trace elements between silicate melts and phenocrysts growing from that melt can constrain igneous processes such as fractional crystallization, assimilation, and partial melting. Partition coefficients were determined for syngenetic clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene, and plagioclase in equilibrium with a dacitic melt using the Melt Inclusion-Mineral (MIM) technique. Melt inclusion chemistry is the same regardless of mineral host phase, suggesting that the melt inclusions have not been subjected to re-equilibration processes or boundary layer development. Partition coefficients from this study are similar but typically lower than published values.

Three closely-spaced monogenetic eruptive units from the active Campi Flegrei volcanic system (Italy) with similar eruptive styles were examined to better understand the evolution of the magmatic system. Results suggest fractional crystallization as the dominant process taking place over time but that magma mixing was significant for one of the eruptions. Trace element geochemical data suggest a mixed magma source of within-plate and volcanic arc components, and still retain a T-MORB signature from the subducting slab.



Trace Elements, Partition Coefficient, Raman Spectroscopy, Campi Flegrei, LA-ICP-MS, Volatiles, Melt Inclusion