Chemical Variation in Rock Suites

Soon after geologists began doing chemical analyses of igneous rocks they realized that rocks
emplaced in any given restricted area during a short amount of geologic time were likely related
to the same magmatic event. Evidence for some kind of relationship between the rocks, and
therefore between the magmas that cooled to form the rocks came from plotting variation

A variation diagram is a plot showing how
each oxide component in a rock varies with
some other oxide component. Because SiO2
usually shows the most variation in any given
suite of rocks, most variation diagrams plot the
other oxides against SiO2 as shown in the
diagram here, although any other oxide could
be chosen for plotting on the x-axis. Plots that
show relatively smooth trends of variation of
the components suggested that the rocks
might be related to one another through some
process. Of course, in order for the magmas to
be related to one another, they must also have
been intruded or erupted within a reasonable
range of time. Plotting rocks of Precambrian
age along with those of Tertiary age may show
smooth variation, but it is unlikely that the
magmas were related to one another.

If magmas are related to each other by some processes, that process would have to be one that
causes magma composition to change. Any process that causes magma composition to change
is called magmatic differentiation. Over the years, various process have been suggested to
explain the variation of magma compositions observed within small regions. Among the
processes are:
1. Distinct melting events from distinct sources.
2. Various degrees of partial melting from the same source.
3. Crystal fractionation.
4. Mixing of 2 or more magmas.
5. Assimilation/contamination of magmas by crustal rocks.

6. Liquid Immiscibility.

Initially, researchers attempted to show that one or the other of these process acted exclusively
to cause magmatic differentiation. With historical perspective, we now realize that if any of
them are possible, then any or all of these processes could act at the same time to produce
chemical change, and thus combinations of these processes are possible. Still, we will look at
each one in turn in the following discussion.

Distinct Melting Events
One possibility that always exists is that the magmas are not related except by some heating
event that caused melting. In such a case each magma might represent melting of a different
source rock at different times during the heating event. If this were the case, we might not
expect the chemical analyses of the rocks produced to show smooth trends on variation
diagrams. But, because variation diagrams are based on a closed set of numbers (chemical
analyses add up to 100%), if the weight% of one component increases, then the weight percent
of some other component must decrease. Thus, even in the event that the magmas are not
related, SiO2 could increase and MgO could decrease to produce a trend. The possibility of
distinct melting events is not easy to prove or disprove.

Various Degrees of Partial Melting
We have seen in our study of simple phase diagrams that when a multicomponent rock system
melts, unless it has the composition of the eutectic, it melts over a range of temperatures at any
given pressure, and during this melting, the liquid composition changes. Thus, a wide variety of
liquid compositions could be made by various degrees of partial melting of the same source

To see this, lets look at a simple example of a three
component system containing natural minerals, the
system Fo - Di - SiO2, shown in simplified form
here. A proxy for mantle peridotite, being a
mixture of Ol, Cpx, and Opx would plot as shown
in the diagram. This rock would begin to melt at
the peritectic point, where Di, En, Ol, and Liquid
are in equilibrium. The composition of the liquid
would remain at the peritectic point (labeled 0%
melting) until all of the diopside melted. This
would occur after about 23% melting. The liquid
would then take a path shown by the dark curve,
first moving along the En - Ol boundary curve,
until the enstatite was completely absorbed, then
moving in a direct path toward the peridotite

At 100% melting the liquid would have the composition of the initial peridotite. So long as
some of the liquid is left behind, liquids can be extracted at any time during the melting event
and have compositions anywhere along the dark like between 0% melting and 100% melting.
(Note that the compositions between 0% melting and where the dark line intersects the En-Di
join are SiO2 oversaturated liquids, and those from this point up to 100% melting are SiO2
undersaturated liquids).
Fractional Melting
Note that it was stated above that some of the liquid must be left behind. If all of the liquid is
removed, then we have the case of fractional melting, which is somewhat different.

In fractional melting all of the liquid is removed at
each stage of the process. Let's imagine that we
melt the same peridotite again, removing liquids as
they form. The first melt to form again will have a
composition of the peritectic, labeled "Melt 1" in
the diagram. Liquids of composition - Melt 1 can
be produced and extracted until all of the Diopside
is used up. At this point, there is no liquid, since it
has been removed or fractionated, so the remaining
solid consists only of Enstatite and Forsterite with
composition "Solid 2". This is a two component
system. Thus further melting cannot take place
until the temperature is raised to the peritectic
temperature in the two component system FoSiO2.

Melting at this temperature produces a liquid of composition "Melt 2". Further melting and
removal of this liquid, eventually results in all of the Enstatite being used up. At this point, all

those that do fit easily into the crystal structure of minerals in the mantle.these are elements like K. the incompatible elements will be ejected preferentially from the solid and enter the liquid. Rare Earth elements are particularly useful in this regard. Cs.  Incompatible elements . Thus. let alone to much higher temperatures. Most have a large ionic radius. those that do not easily fit into the crystal structure of minerals in the mantle. Rb. Sm.these are elements like Ni. Yb. Gd.e. When considering the rocks in the mantle. Zr. and compatible elements. which have smaller ionic radii and fit more easily into crystallographic sites that normally accommodate Mg. fractional melting is not very likely to occur in the Earth. When a mantle rock begins to melt. Thus the degree of incompatibility decreases from La to Lu. La is largest. Pr. trace elements can be divided into incompatible elements. V. Er. & garnet do not have crystallographic sites for large ions. Ta. spinel. Ce. This is because if these elements are present in minerals in the rock. have a +3 charge. Tb.Lu) are more compatible with crystallographic sites in garnet. usually less than 0. Hf. Th. and Fe.  Compatible elements . and Sc. . & Lu.that is left in the rock is Forsterite. ppm). and (2) their concentrations will become more and more diluted as other elements enter the melt. a low degree melt of a mantle rock will have high concentrations of incompatible elements. Trace Elements as Clues to Suites Produced by Various Degrees of Melting Trace elements are elements that occur in low concentrations in rocks. These elements. so further melting cannot take place until the temperature reaches the melting temperature of pure Forsterite. Y. incompatible element concentrations will decrease with increasing % melting. because the size of the heavy REEs (Ho . Dy. i. This liquid will have the same composition as pure Forsterite ("Melt 3"). they will not be in energetically favorable sites in the crystals. This is even more true if garnet is a mineral in the source. pyroxene. Lu is smallest. We saw in our discussion of how magmas are generated that it is difficult enough to get the temperature in the Earth above the peridotite solidus. Forsterite melts at a much higher temperature. Ho. Nb. and the Rare Earth Elements (REE). Thus. Thus. U. Mantle minerals like olivine. Tm. Cr. Co. Nd.1 % (usually reported in units of parts per million. As melting proceeds the concentration of these incompatible elements will decrease because (1) there will be less of them to enter the melt. Eu. Pm.La. but their ionic radii decrease with increasing atomic number. with the exception of Eu.

to a less incompatible element. and if the crystals are removed by some process. This gives us a method for distinguishing between partial melting and crystal fractionation as the process responsible for magmatic differentiation.Using equations that describe how trace elements are partitioned by solids and liquids. versus the concentration of the highly incompatible element.Eu) are enriched over the heavier REEs. La/Sm ratio versus La concentration for each % melting. As we'll see in our discussion of crystal fractionation. like Sm. . In all cases except a eutectic composition. concentrations of REEs in melts from garnet peridotite can be calculated. These are shown in the diagram. In the case shown. crystallization results in a change in the composition of the liquid. where REE concentrations have been normalized by dividing the concentration of each element by the concentration found in chondritic meteorites. and therefore produce a trend with a less steep slope. like La. Next. because the low atomic weight REEs (La . then crystal fractionation can produce liquid compositions that would not otherwise have been attained by normal crystallization of the parent liquid. Note the steep slope of the curves connecting the points. we plot the ratio of a highly incompatible element. Note that the low % melts have Light REE enriched patterns. If minerals that later react to form a new mineral or solid solution minerals are removed. Crystal Fractionation In our discussion of phase diagrams we saw how liquid compositions can change as a result of removing crystals from the liquid as they form. then different magma compositions can be generated from the initial parent liquid. This produces a REE pattern. the ratios of incompatible elements do not change much with crystal fractionation.

an experimental petrologist in the early 1900s.and 3-component phase diagrams. that the common suite of rocks from basalt to rhyolite could be produced. Bowen suggested that the common minerals that crystallize from magmas could be divided into a continuous reaction series and a discontinuous reaction series. to produce hornblende. as we have seen. then liquid compositions could eventually evolve to those that would crystallize a Na-rich plagioclase. This is summarized as Bowen's Reaction Series. which by this time had become more enriched in H2O. such as a rhyolite liquid. realized this from his determinations of simple 2.Bowen's Reaction Series Norman L. If the early forming plagioclase were removed.  The discontinuous reaction series consists of minerals that upon cooling eventually react with the liquid to produce a new phase. A basaltic magma would initially crystallize a plagioclase and upon cooling continually react with the liquid to produce more Na-rich plagioclase. and proposed that if an initial basaltic magma had crystals removed before they could react with the liquid. Bowen postulated that with further cooling pyroxene would react with the liquid.  The continuous reaction series is composed of the plagioclase feldspar solid solution series. The hornblende would eventually react with the liquid to produce . Bowen. Thus. crystallization of olivine from a basaltic liquid would eventually reach a point where olivine would react with the liquid to produce orthopyroxene.

This should also be true of all other variation diagrams plotting other oxides against SiO2. like olivines and pyroxenes. This generalized idea is consistent with the temperatures observed in magmas and with the mineral assemblages we find in the various rocks. K2O and Na2O should increase with increasing crystal fractionation because they do not enter early crystallizing phases. (This is the same idea we used in phase diagrams). and compatible trace element concentrations to decrease. Furthermore. crystal fraction is often implicitly assumed to be the dominant process of magmatic differentiation. Oxides like H2O. Graphical Representation of Crystal Fractionation The effects on chemical change of magma (rock) compositions that would be expected from crystal fractionation can be seen by examining some simple variation diagrams. A and B. with their SiO2 and MgO concentrations as shown in the diagram. then the composition of rock B should lie on the same line. This is generally what is observed in igneous rock suites. Also plotted is the analysis of olivine contained in rock A. . and CaO should decrease with higher degrees of crystal fractionation because they enter early crystallizing phases. We would expect that with increasing SiO2 oxides like MgO. If the earlier crystallizing phases are removed before the reaction can take place.biotite. we would expect incompatible trace element concentrations to increase with fractionation. and the fact that crystal fractionation is easy to envision and somewhat easy to test. Because of this. Removal of olivine from Rock A would drive the liquid composition in a straight line away from A.Just like in phase diagrams we can apply the lever rule to determine how much of the olivine had to fractionate from a magma with composition A to produce rock B: %Olivine Fractionated = [y/(x + y)]*100 If olivine fractionation were the process responsible for the change from magma A to magma B. If rock B were produced from rock A by fractionation of olivine. then increasingly more siliceous liquids would be produced. In a simple case imagine that we have two rocks.

Again the lever rule would tell us that the percentage of solids fractionated would be: %solids fractionated = [z/(w + z)]*100 This works well for small steps in the fractionation sequence. Again the rules we apply are the same rules we used in phase diagrams. In the real world we find that many minerals expected to crystallize from a magma are solid solutions whose compositions will change as the liquid evolves and temperature drops. Taking the fractionation in small increments. a generalization we can make is that in natural magmas we expect the variation to be along smooth curved trends since most of the minerals that crystallize . We can see how this would affect things with the following example. The net result will be that the variation will show a curved trend on a variation diagram. Thus. Note that the liquid composition has to change along a line away from the composition of the mixture of solid phases. a mixture of 50% olivine and 50% pyroxene has been removed from magma C to produce magma D. the second liquid will be crystallizing a solid with lower MgO and higher. we next look at what happens if two phases of different composition were involved in the fractionation. The initial magma has high MgO and low SiO2. In this case.then these proportions would have to be the same on all other variation diagrams as well. the second magma produced by removing the solids from the original magma will have higher SiO2 and lower MgO. so it will evolve along a different path. SiO2. The solid crystallizing from this magma also has high MgO and low SiO2. In this case we look at what happens if an Mg-Fe solid solution mineral is removed as temperature falls. through the composition of the original liquid (magma C). But. In a more complicated case.

Thus. and the concentration of compatible trace elements should decrease with fractionation.from magmas are solid solutions. elements that are excluded from crystals during fractionation should have their concentrations increase in the fractionated magmas. . Trace Elements and Crystal Fractionation As we might expect. The concentration of incompatible trace elements should thus increase with increasing crystal fractionation. we'll look at the REEs. In the example shown a series of magmas are produced along segment 1 by fractionating a combination of solids with low FeO and low SiO2. These phases (probably including a mineral with high FeO. The last magma produced along segment 1 of the variation diagram has different mineral phases in equilibrium. To see how this works with incompatible trace elements. Note that different minerals fractionated will produce different trends. and further fractionation causes liquids to evolve along segment 2. This is true for trace elements as well. sudden changes in the trends on variation diagrams could mean that there has been a change in the mineral assemblage being fractionated. The diagram shows how the REEs behave as calculated from theoretical equations for trace element distribution. like magnetite) have a much higher FeO concentration. Removal of these phases from this magma causes the trend of variation to make a sharp bend. Another complication arises if there is a change in the combination of minerals that are fractionating. but they will still be smooth and curved.

In general. crystals forming from a magma will have different densities than the liquid.Note that the REE patterns produced by higher percentages of crystal fractionation show higher concentrations. but as more crystals float to the top and accumulate. they will tend to float or rise upward through the magma. they will tend to sink or settle to the floor of the magma body. . Again the first layer that accumulates at the top of the magma body will initially be in contact with the liquid. The first layer that settles will still be in contact with the magma. Mechanisms of Crystal Fractionation In order for crystal fractionation to operate their must be a natural mechanism that can remove crystals from the magma or at least separate the crystals so that they can no longer react with the liquid. and that we can use this factor to distinguish between crystal fractionation and partial melting. but will later become buried by later settling crystals so that they are effectively removed from the liquid. o If the crystals have a higher density than the liquid. yet the patterns remain nearly parallel to one another.  Crystal Settling/Floating . Thus. a suite of rocks formed as a result of crystal fractionation should show nearly parallel trends of REE patterns. o If the crystals have a lower density in the magma. the earlier formed layers will be effectively removed from contact with the liquid. Several mechanisms could operate in nature. Referring back to our discussion of REEs during partial melting. recall that we said that during crystal fractionation the ratios of incompatible elements show little change.

then it is possible that they could mix with each other to produce compositions intermediate between the end members. Thus.basaltic magmas have densities on the order of 2600 to 2700 kg/m3. If they come in contact with one another the basaltic magma would tend to cool or even crystallize and the rhyolitic magma would tend to heat up and begin to dissolve any crystals that it had precipitated. Just like in the example above. the first layer of crystals precipitated will still be in contact with the liquid. Inward Crystallization . This contrast in density would mean that the lighter rhyolitic magmas would tend to float on the heavier basaltic magma and inhibit mixing. heat will move outward away from the magma. Filter pressing is a common method used to separate crystals from liquid in industrial processes.  Filter pressing .  Density Contrast. The magma would then be expected to crystallize from the walls inward.this mechanism has been proposed as a way to separate a liquid from a crystal-liquid mush.basaltic magmas and rhyolitic magmas would have very different viscosities. Thus. some kind of vigorous stirring would be necessary to get the magmas . whereas rhyolitic magmas have densities of 2300 to 2500 kg/m3. but has not been shown to have occurred in nature.  Temperature contrast .Because a magma body is hot and the country rock which surrounds it is expected to be much cooler. If the compositions of the magmas are greatly different (i. there are several factors that would tend to inhibit mixing.basaltic and rhyolitic magmas have very different temperatures. but will eventually become buried by later crystals and effectively be removed from contact with the liquid. and (2) the fractures required for the liquid to move into are generally formed by extensional forces and the mechanism to get the liquid into the fractures involves compressional forces. It would be kind of like squeezing the water out of a sponge. In such a situation where there is a high concentration of crystals the liquid could be forced out of the spaces between crystals by some kind of tectonic squeezing that moves the liquid into a fracture or other free space. basalt and rhyolite). the walls of the magma body will be coolest. This mechanism is difficult to envision taking place in nature because (1) unlike a sponge the matrix of crystals is brittle and will not deform easily to squeeze the liquid out.  Viscosity Contrast. and crystallization would be expected to take place first in this cooler portion of the magma near the walls. Magma Mixing If two or more magmas with different chemical compositions come in contact with one another beneath the surface of the Earth.e. leaving the crystals behind.

and the magma was erupted before the quartz or olivine could be redissolved or made over into another mineral. with the hotter magma rising through the cooler magma. For example.  Reverse Zoning in Minerals. if a basaltic magma containing Mg-rich olivine mixed with a rhyolite magma containing quartz. Note that differences in color are not always due to differences in composition. solid solution minerals may just start precipitating a new composition that is stable in the new chemical environment or at the new temperature. This might leave disequilibrium mineral assemblages. mix. the smaller will be the contrasts in temperature. then we might expect to find rocks that show a "marble cake" appearance. there is evidence in rocks that magmas do sometimes mix. Despite these inhibiting factors. it will tend to react to retain equilibrium. however. some evidence might still be preserved if the crystals present in one of the magmas does not completely dissolve or react. mingling of magmas may not have occurred. in the initially stages of such mixing. and viscosity. If magmas of contrasting composition come in contact and begin to mix some kind of stirring mechanism would first be necessary. is mingling of magmas. For Example: . When a mineral is placed in an environment different than the one in which it originally formed. then we would produce a rock containing mineral that are out of equilibrium. Evidence for Mixing  Mingling of magmas. If convective stirring progresses beyond the point of mingling. This can result in zoned crystals that show reversals of the zoning trends. Instead of dissolving completely or remaking their entire composition. Such stirring could be provided by convection. with dark colored mafic rock intermingled with lighter colored rhyolitic rock.  Disequilibrium Mineral Assemblages. If. This. the magma were erupted. The smaller the difference in chemical composition between two magmas. so even in rocks that show this banding.

Mg-Fe solid solution minerals normally zone from Mg-rich cores to Fe-rich rims. Since the glass inclusions should represent the composition of the magma that precipitated the crystal. If that liquid is quenched on the surface and a thin section is cut through the crystal this trapped liquid will be revealed as glass inclusions in the crystal. .  Glass Inclusions. chemical analysis of glass inclusions give us the composition of the liquid in which the crystal formed. if a Na-rich plagioclase originally crystallizing from a rhyolitic magma were mixed into a basaltic magma precipitating a Ca-rich plagioclase. this provides evidence of magma mixing. If the composition of glass inclusions is different from glass in the groundmass. and if the groundmass composition is not what is expected from normal crystallization of the minerals present. Similarly. Crystal growth from liquids is sometimes not perfect. Analyses of such crystals would reveal a reversal in zoning. a Carich rim may be added to the Na-rich plagioclase. The groundmass may also contain glass representing the composition of the liquid in which the crystal resided at eruption. Sometimes the crystal grows incompletely trapping liquid inside. If a Fe-rich olivine or pyroxene is mixed into a Mg-rich magma that is precipitating Mg-rich olivine or pyroxene. it may precipitate the more Mg-rich composition on the rims of the added crystals.

In a sense. Crustal Assimilation/Contamination Because the composition of the crust is generally different from the composition of magmas which must pass through the crust to reach the surface. In order to assimilate the country rock enough heat must be provided to first raise the country rock to its solidus temperature where it will begin to melt and then further heat must be added to change from the solid state to the liquid state. Either of these process would produce a change in the chemical composition of the magma unless the material being added has the same chemical composition as the magma. . but it is more complicated than mixing because of the heat balance involved. Chemical Evidence. If the magma absorbs part of the rock through which it passes we say that the magma has become contaminated by the crust. their is always the possibility that reactions between the crust and the magma could take place. and the proportional distances are the same on all diagrams. and dissolved to become part of the magma. bulk assimilation would produce some of the same effects as mixing. incorporated into the magma. If crustal rocks are picked up. evidence for mixing will still be preserved in the composition of the mixed magmas. is the magma itself. The only source of this heat. of course. If the mixing process proceeds to the point where other evidence is erased. On oxide-oxide variation diagrams mixtures will lie along a straight line. Thus if diagrams show a group of rocks that lie along the same straight line. one could hypothesize that the chemical variation resulted from magma mixing. we say that the crustal rocks have been assimilated by the magma.

Note that in the case shown here. The amount of heat required is determined by the heat capacity of the rock. because magmas are probably relatively close to or below their liquidus temperature after having passed through cooler country rocks. TL. Tm. however. There are two ways to overcome this problem: (1) If the initial temperature of the magma were much higher. Ti. In order to raise the temperature of the country rock from its initial temperature. somewhat above its melting Temperature. also sometimes called the latent heat of fusion. less heat would have to be provided by the magma. in this process the magma has completely crystallized.Ti) Once the temperature has risen to Tm. In our example we'll take a simple case where the magma has a eutectic composition and therefore melts at a single temperature. This heat is known as the heat of melting. The amount of heat it would give up would then be: ΔH = CpLiquid (Tm .Let's imagine a simple case of a pure mineral making up the country rock that is to be assimilated. ΔHm . This could happen if there were successive batches of magma . This is unrealistic. As stated above the heat required for this process must be supplied by the magma. In order to provide the heat for assimilation it would first have to cool. This time we'll assume that the magma is at a temperature. Cp (the p subscript stands for constant pressure). (2) If the country rock had an initial temperature closer to its melting temperature. then it could provide the heat by simply cooling to its melting temperature. so assimilation cannot take place. dH/dT = Cp or ΔH = Cp (Tm . the total heat released by the magma in cooling to Tm and crystallizing is still not enough to melt the country rock. Tm. to its melting temperature. further heat must be added to melt the rock. Furthermore. heat must be provided. ΔHc.Ti) Once it reached Tm the only other source of heat must be provided by crystallization to release the latent heat of crystallization.

Perhaps the best evidence of assimilation/contamination comes from studies of radiogenic isotopes. Just as in magma mixing. . In a more realistic natural situation things will be slightly different because both the country rock and the magma will melt/crystallize over a range of temperatures. partial assimilation of the country rock would be possible because the country rock would only have to be partially melted to produce a liquid that could mix with the magma. the amount of heat required to melt the rock must be provided over a relatively narrow range of temperature. if the assimilation goes to completion. and again similar to the straight line mixing patterns produced by mixing.Sr system. And.passing through and releasing heat into the country rock. Here we give an example using the systematics of the Rb . In this case we would say that the magma has been contaminated by the country rock. but if the xenoliths show evidence of having been disaggregated with their minerals distributed thought the rest of the rock it is likely that some contamination of the magma has taken place. this heat budget analysis illustrates the difficulty involved in bulk assimilation of country rock by magmas. Xenoliths (meaning foreign rock) are pieces of rock sometimes found as inclusions in other rocks. Nevertheless. various stages of this process may be preserved in the magma and rock that results. so if assimilation takes place it will likely involve a combined process of crystal fractionation and assimilation. the only evidence left may be chemical. The presence of xenoliths does not always indicate that assimilation has taken place. and makes the process less attractive as a process to explain the chemical diversity of a suite of rocks. just as in the case of magma mixing. But. Note also that the heat budget will still likely involve crystallizing some of the magma. Even still. rather than at a single temperature. This may result in disequilibrium mineral assemblages and reversely zoned minerals. with all of the xenoliths being dissolved in the magma. Evidence for Assimilation/Contamination As magma passes upward through the crust pieces of the country rock through which it passes may be broken off and assimilated by the magma.

 For a suite of rocks affected by contamination. Sr is a stable. then we would expect to find ratios of 87Sr/86Sr in these contaminated rocks that are higher than those found in the mantle and extend up to values found in older crustal rocks.0. on the other hand does not change radiogenic isotopic ratios. . about 4 ppm). the 87Sr/ 86Sr of the crust has. Crystal fractionation.705. Note that magma mixing could produce similar trends if the two end member have different concentrations of Sr and 87Sr/86Sr ratios. younger crustal rocks having been recently derived from the mantle will 87Sr/86Sr ratios more similar to the mantle. 87  Because Rb is an incompatible element. it has been extracted from the mantle by magmas and added to the crust.  The 87Sr/86Sr ratio of the mantle is generally in the range between 0. 87Sr/86Sr ratio plotted against Sr concentration would plot along a hyperbolic mixing curve.  87  If mantle derived magmas assimilate or are contaminated by older crustal rocks.  86  Because 87Rb decays to produce 87Sr and because there is more Rb in the crust than in the mantle.720. rocks derived from melting of the mantle should have 87Sr/86Sr ratios in this range.702 .0. non radiogenic isotope whose concentration does not change with time. Sr/86Sr ratios of crustal rocks will depend on their age and concentration of Rb. Rb is a radioactive isotope that decays to 87Sr with a half life of 47 billion years. changed to much higher values than the 87Sr/86Sr ratio in the mantle. about 100 ppm) is much higher than it is in the mantle (avg. Older crustal rocks will have high values of 87Sr/86Sr in the range 0.705 . Thus. Thus the concentration of Rb in the crust (avg. over time.

This points out two important properties of immiscible liquids. both liquids must be in equilibrium with the same solid compositions. 1. Liquid immiscibility was once thought to be a mechanism to explain all magmatic differentiation. Still. requirement 2. Extreme compositions of the two the liquids will exist at the same temperature. for example in the alkali feldspar system. We are all familiar with this phenomenon in the case of oil and water/vinegar in salad dressing. above. Just like in the alkali feldspar system. in a two component system if there is a field of immiscibility it would appear as in the diagram shown here. We have also discussed immiscibility in solids. Further cooling would result in the disappearance of the A-rich liquid. liquid immiscibility is not looked upon favorably as an explanation for wide diversity of magmatic compositions. liquid immiscibility is observed in experiments conducted on simple rock systems. Note that both liquids would be in equilibrium with crystals of A at the same temperature. 2. would require that siliceous liquids and mafic liquids should form at the same temperature. .Liquid Immiscibility Liquid immiscibility is where liquids do not mix with each other. immiscibility is temperature dependent. If immiscible liquids are in equilibrium with solids. Cooling of a liquid with a composition of 25%B & 75%A would eventually result in the liquid separating into two different compositions. For example. With further cooling one liquid would become more enriched in A and the other more enriched in B. If so. Since basaltic magmas are generally much hotter than rhyolitic magmas. Eventually both liquids would reach a temperature where crystals of A would start to form.

and the other rich in silica and alkalies. In nature. . Very Fe-rich basaltic magmas may form two separate liquids . although crystal fractionation seems to be the dominant process affecting magmatic differentiation. in the system Fo-An-Qz a field of immiscible liquids is observed for compositions rich in SiO2. felsic and rich in SiO2. This process may be responsible for forming the rare carbonatite magmas 3. Highly alkaline magmas rich in CO2 may separate into two liquids. As we have seen. If this occurs then a combination of crystal fraction and assimilation could occur. assimilation is likely to accompanied by crystallization of magmas in order to provide the heat necessary for assimilation. then a combination of the process could act to produce chemical change in magmas. Combined Processes As pointed out previously. it may not be the only processes. But these compositions are outside of the range of compositions that occur in nature. There are however. This is true of almost all simple systems wherein liquid immiscibility has been observed. magmas could mix and crystallize at the same time resulting in a combination of magma mixing and crystal fractionation. Similarly. things could be quite complicated. 2. three exceptions where liquid immiscibility may play a role. Thus. if any of these process are possible. Sulfide liquids may separate from mafic silicate magmas. one rich in carbonate.For example. and the other mafic and rich in FeO.

and chemistry. In this supplement we will try to explain the fundamentals of magma generation in the Earth without relying too heavily on mathematics. to understand them it is necessary to first understand magma. (d) latent heat of fusion. Define the following: (a) magmatic differentiation. (e) Bowen's Reaction Series. (b) fractional melting. 3. Melting Rocks .Examples of questions on this material that could be asked on an exam 1. What kind of evidence would one look for to determine if any of the following processes have operated to change the composition of magmas and resulting igneous rocks (a) crystal fractionation. Making Magma Since volcanoes are places where magma is erupted onto the surface of the Earth. (b) magma mixing. (c) fractional crystallization. but is usually not 100% liquid. 4. (c) crustal assimilation. Magma is molten rock. When it exists onto the surface of the Earth it is called lava. physics. Name 5 processes that might cause the chemical composition of a magma to change. and especially near the surface may also contain gas bubbles: A blob of magma containing some crystals (green) and some gas bubbles. Discuss the mechanisms by which crystal fractionation could occur in nature. In most cases it also contains some mineral crystals. Magma is always formed deep inside the Earth. 2.

There are 4 minerals in this rock indicated by the colors white.020EC. Rock has two melting points: a lower temperature.100EC. and a higher temperature. green. T b ( c r . or ice.020EC. The lower temperature is called the solidus and the higher temperature is called the liquidus. Rock is just below its solidus temperature. T = 1. which marks the onset of melting.Before discussing how magma is made it is important to understand how rocks melt. which marks the conclusion of melting. This kind of melting is indicated in this sequence of diagrams. rock does not have a single melting point. Rock is slightly above its solidus temperature (1. Unlike familiar substances like butter. Rock is in middle of melting range. At temperatures between the liquidus and solidus a mixture of liquid and solid occurs. T = 1. which proceeds from lower to higher temperatures: T = 990EC.000EC) and has consequently begun to melt. The brown mineral melts first. blue. The blue mineral has completely melted as well as part of the green and white. and is completely melted at 1. The partial melt is colored red. and brown. and the liquid is called a partial melt. and therefore is all solid. wax.

all that is necessary is for a rock to rock to be slightly above its solidus temperature. The partial melt will rise. the liquid escapes. and therefore tends to rise due to buoyancy as soon as it is created. and is on the order of 150-200EC for most rocks. intermediate and felsic. This important result was determined by melting rocks in the laboratory. What is the solidus? o The temperature at which melting begins o The temperature below which a composition is 100% solid o The lower of the two melting point for rocks o The onset of partial melting o All of the above Composition of Partial Melts Because some minerals melt sooner than other minerals. We can summarize the relationship between the compositions of the original rock and of its partial melt with reference to the compositional spectrum of igneous rocks (Supplement 2) as follows: The partial melt is always one step more felsic than the original rock The relationship is shown schematically below. mafic. Therefore in order to produce magma. Make sure you recall the meaning of the terms ultramafic.The difference between the solidus and liquidus temperatures is called the melting interval. . Experiments have shown that as soon as a few percent of a rock has melted.1. the composition of the partial melt is different from the composition of the original rock. and produce a large body of magma. where it will undergo partial melting. blend with partial melts from other regions. Liquid rock is less dense than solid rock. Practice Quiz 5. and observing the composition of the partial melts produced by the experiments.

Practice Quiz 5. In fact. The generation of all magma starts out with melting of mantle rock. The problem is the lack of a source of extra heat inside the Earth. This is the obvious method.  Raising the temperature above the solidus. What is the composition of the partial melt produced by melting an intermediate igneous rock? o Ultramafic o Mafic o Intermediate o Felsic o Cannot be determined from the information given Making Rock Melt There are three processes that can make rock melt. Since the mantle is ultramafic. this means that the first magmas produced are always mafic. Two of these have analogies on the surface of the Earth. But while this is an important process in some places.In this example when a rock with mafic composition melts it will produce a partial melt with intermediate composition. and are fairly readily understood. which is mobile and can in some cases carry heat upward and cause overlying rocks rocks to melt.2. it doesn't explain the origin of the original magma. but isn't as important as you might think. the only plausible candidate for a heat source is magma itself. . The third is difficult for many students because it is unfamiliar.

Felsic magmas. but not into ice. The idea is that the combination of ice + salt melts at a lower temperature than ice alone. magma temperature varies with its composition: The temperature of magma depends on its composition. The water produced by melting of salted ice is always salty. on the other hand. Ultramafic magmas only occurred early in Earth's history (before 2.  Lowering the solidus by adding a contaminant. Mafic magmas are the hottest. This kind of melting is called hydration melting. Felsic magmas are the coolest (700EC at the surface) and mafic the hottest observed today (1.5 billion years) and produced lavas with temperatures in excess of 1. but in this case it is usually H2O (steam) that is added to promote melting. People. . and can cause melting in rocks of intermediate to felsic composition. you know that salt is an invaluable tool in the fight against ice. as much as 400EC (depending on the pressure).300EC. which is very important in how they are erupted if they feed volcanoes. salt their icy sidewalks and roads in order to melt the ice. The partial melts produced by this mechanism contain a lot of dissolved H2O. The combination of rock + steam melts at a significantly lower temperature than rock alone. This is because the steam dissolves much more easily into magma than rock.  As a result of this variation. and some municipalities. the ability of a magma to melt other rocks depends on the composition of both.100EC at the surface). The same principle applies to rocks. The reason this is so is because salt readily dissolves into water. are too cool to induce cooling in other rocks.In addition. If you've ever lived where it snows.

The water is released as steam. Rock is now immersed in a steam bath. The partial melt contains a high concentration of dissolved H2O. and instantly partially melts. Dehydration melting at subduction zones. which rises and causes the overlying mantle to partially melt via hydration melting. Rock is below its solidus. which often leads to explosive volcanic eruptions. The downgoing plate contains water bound in minerals. This water is released when the minerals are heated as the plate descends into the hot mantle. These magmas have high concentrations of H2O.  T = 900EC. same temperature. and is consequently all solid. These partial melts are H2O-rich because they are . Dehydration melting typically occurs in subduction zones.T = 900EC. when water released off of the descending plate rises and triggers melting in the overlying mantle.

A phase diagram. all liquid. Fuji (Japan). This kind of melting is called decompression melting.formed by hydration melting. Being in the solid + liquid mixture region is akin to being at T = 1. To understand decompression melting we need to introduce the idea of a phase diagram. as shown in the figure on the right. as it is the cause of most of the magma generated inside the Earth.020EC. The lines are the solidus and the liquidus. This is to imitate a cross-section of the Earth. and a mixture of solid + liquid (orange). . Even though the temperature of the rock remains the same. is simply a diagram showing the conditions under which certain phases are stable. Also notice that depth. where the pressure is low at the surface and increases downwards. St. the rock melts when it finds itself above its solidus temperature.100EC. T = 1.800EC. or a mixture of solid + liquid. but the most important. The phase diagram shows the condition of mantle rock from 600EC to 1. increases downwards. pool. In this case we are interested in the phases solid rock and liquid rock. The lower pressure causes the solidus temperature of the rock to fall. and therefore experiences lower pressures as it ascends.000EC the rock would be all solid. under the conditions P = 10 kilobars (corresponding to a depth of 30 km). Notice that two lines separate the phase diagram into three regions: all solid (blue). 30 kilobars). and by 'conditions' we mean the temperature and pressure. all liquid (pink). It occurs when rock rises toward the surface. We expect that solid rock will be stable under conditions of low temperature. or map. This is the hardest mechanism to understand. Helens (USA) or Mt.  Lowering the solidus by decompression. Pinatubo (Philippines). The partial melts rise. and may eventually feed volcanoes at subduction zones like Mt. 1. Given a combination of temperature and pressure you can determine whether the rock would be all solid. For example. or 1180EC in the melting diagram above. but what about the effect of pressure? The diagrams below show the phase diagram for ultramafic rock. and from the surface (essentially 0 kilobars) to a depth of 90 kilometers (60 miles. and as a consequence pressure. or may actually decrease slightly. Mt.

A rock that lies anywhere in the fields colored orange or pink will produce magma. Remember. from the surface downward. but over 1. and therefore the rock would be all solid.100EC at the surface. and therefore does not produce any melting.000EC and P = 10 kilobars lie in the blue field. The temperature of the solidus increases with increasing pressure. Thus the solidus is at 1. Remember. The collection of states that rock in the Earth feels. Under normal conditions the Earth is entirely within the field of all solid--which is just a fancy way of saying it's not melted at all.  The coordinates given by T = 1. is called the geotherm. .500EC at 90 kilometers depth.Phase diagram for ultramafic rock. Melting will occur whenever the rock finds itself in the orange or pink regions. all that is required for a rock to partially melt is that it lie at a temperature above its solidus. and is shown on the phase diagram below as a green line. The key feature of this phase diagram is the slope of the solidus line. the key point about the geotherm is that it lies everywhere below the solidus in the blue field.

indicating its temperature remains constant while its pressure decreases. and heat begins to be lost at the borders of the mass of rock. and will have the following features: (a) it will start along the geotherm. large masses of rocks deep inside the Earth rise. When a large mass of mantle rock rises its temperature changes very little.Phase diagram for ultramafic rock showing the geotherm.  Under certain conditions. or because they are caught up in convection cells within the Earth's sublithospheric mantle. as it rises it finds itself in a cooler environment. To be sure. but if it is sufficiently large the loss of heat from its interior will be minimal and its temperature will remain nearly constant. below a mid-ocean ridge where plates are diverging). They rise either because they are slightly less dense than surrounding rocks (because they are slightly hotter). This path is shown on the phase diagram below as a heavy black arrow: . or because they are "sucked" up by low pressure above (for example. The ascent of a large blob of mantle can be shown on the phase diagram. and (b) it will follow a path that is nearly vertical.

Phase diagram for ultramafic rock showing the geotherm and the path of a rising blob of rock (black arrow). and melting begins. .  At this point it is important to summarize:  As pressure is decreasing the temperature of the mass of rock remains constant. Thus it carries its temperature. This produces a vertical path on this diagram. As blob rises it pressure decreases but its temperature remains essentially constant. As blob rises it eventually intersects and crosses the solidus. inherited from below.  As pressure is decreasing the temperature of the solidus is decreasing. upward.

We call this event melting! Thus the rock melts not because its temperature increases but because its solidus temperature decreases. Examples where rising rock occurs in the Earth's sublithospheric mantle. The lithosphere is shown in purple. and as it continues to rise will eventually cross it and enter the field of solid + liquid. Practice Quiz 5.3. and also under hot spots. Ultramafic rock rises under mid-ocean ridges (MOR) to fill in the space vacated when the plates move apart. What kind of rocks can mafic magma melt? o All rocks except ultramafic rocks o Mafic rocks only o Intermediate rocks only o Intermediate and felsic rocks only o Felsic rocks only . everything below that is fluid rock of the sublithospheric mantle.As a consequence of these trends. the temperature of the mass of rising rock eventually will equal the solidus. a result of decreasing pressure. Decompression melting explains the origin of magma at both of these settings.

Which of the following statements is not true about decompression melting? o It occurs below mid-ocean ridges o It occurs below hot spots o It occurs in the mantle o It can occur while the temperature of the rock is decreasing o It requires the addition of water Practice Quiz 5. Which of the following statements is not true about the geotherm? o It describes the temperatures and pressures within the Earth . What is the contaminant that lowers the solidus to produce melting in the Earth's mantle? o Metallic iron o Si o Ultramafic magma o H2O as steam o Quartz minerals from the mantle Practice Quiz 5. Where does hydration melting typically occur? o At mid-ocean ridges o Near the core/mantle boundary o Under hot spots o In the Earth's crust o In subduction zones Practice Quiz 5.Practice Quiz 5.

cas. What is necessary for rock to melt? o Its temperature exceeds the solidus temperature o Its temperature exceeds the liquidus temperature o Its temperature exceeds both the solidus and liquidus temperature o Its temperature lies on the geotherm o Its temperature lies below the geotherm http://chuma.o It lies above the solidus over much of its length o It is not a straight line o It lies entirely within the field of "All solid" Practice Quiz 5.8.htm .edu/~juster/S5/magma.9. Why does decompression melting occur? o Because the temperature of the rock increases faster than its solidus temperature o Because the liquidus temperature decreases to equal the soildus temperature o Because the solidus temperature decreases to equal the rock temperature o Because the solidus intersects regions with abundant H2O o Because the solidus temperature increases faster than the rock temperature Practice Quiz 5.usf.