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Megacrysts and salic xenoliths in Scottish alkali basalts: derivatives of deep crustal intrusions and small-melt fractions from the upper mantle

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Ca-poor and typically Na-rich feldspar megacrysts are common associates of spinel lherzolitic and pyroxenitic xenoliths in Scottish alkalic basalts. Associated megacrysts and composite megacrysts and salic xenoliths include apatite, magnetite, zircon, biotite, Fe-rich pyroxene(s) and corundum. The salic xenoliths and related megacrysts are referred to collectively as the 'anorthoclasite suite': the majority of the samples are inferred to derive from the disaggregation of coarse-grained, typically Na-rich, syenitic protoliths at depth. Rare occurrences of euhedral anorthoclase megacrysts, together with zircon dating, imply that the suite crystallized at, or very shortly before, their entrainment by the basaltic host magmas. Some evidence suggests that the anorthoclasite suite protoliths lie within ultramafic (pyroxenitic) domains in the deep crust. The latter are inferred to be pegmatites, crystallized from carbonated trachytic magmas with widely variable Ca, Na, K, Ba and trace-element contents, and to have ranged from metaluminous to peraluminous. Crystal zonation and resorption textures within the salic xenoliths imply that the crystallization of the parent magmas was complex. Confirmation of this comes from cathodoluminescence studies of the feldspars showing that early ('primary') anorthoclases and potassian albites exhibit partial replacement by a more potassic feldspar. A third generation of potassic feldspar (enriched in an assortment of trace elements and deduced to have crystallized from a carbonated high-K melt) forms transecting zoned veins in which carbonate fills the axial zone.

Whereas most of the anorthoclasite suite materials are inferred to have grown from metaluminous magmas, the occurrence of magmatic corundum in salic xenoliths indicates crystallization from magmas that were peraluminous. The corundum-bearing samples also contain Nb-rich oxide minerals and their associated feldspars have the highest rare-earth element (REE) contents. Accordingly, the peraluminous trachyte magmas are deduced to have been specifically enriched in high field-strength trace elements. It is proposed that formation of the anorthoclasite suite protoliths is a phenomenon closely related to that of salic glass 'pockets', well known from spinel lherzolite xenoliths around the world. Not only are there compositional affinities, but both sets of phenomena appear to have closely pre-empted the ascent of alkali basalt (host) magmas. We propose that the two sets of phenomena are linked and that the anorthoclasite suite derived from coarse-grained sheets, generated by the aggregation of salic melt fractions rising from the shallow mantle and heralding the onset of basaltic magmatism.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)943-956
Number of pages14
JournalMineralogical Magazine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009

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