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Xenocryst assimilation and formation of peritectic crystals during magma contamination: An experimental study

Abstract : Contamination of magmas by country rocks may contribute xenoliths and xenocrysts to the magma, but also melt and peritectic crystals that form through incongruent melting or dissolution of the original contaminants. Identifying contaminant-derived peritectic crystals and former melt components in igneous rocks is particularly challenging, but also particularly important, because their assimilation significantly affects melt composition and magma temperature. To facilitate the identification of peritectic crystals in igneous rocks, the aim of this study was to experimentally control partial assimilation of xenocrysts and examine the formation, textures, and composition of resulting peritectic crystals. Our experiments mimic contaminant melting and contamination of a partially crystallized basaltic andesite by melanorite- and monzodiorite-derived xenocrysts and micro-xenoliths. Micro-xenoliths and xenocrysts partially survive assimilation, and yet peritectic crystals form ~ 1/3 of all solid contaminants. Anhydrous xenocrysts either develop laterally continuous, subhedral to euhedral, and inclusion-poor overgrowths, or progressively decompose. Hydrous and partially altered xenocrysts decompose to peritectic crystals. The peritectic crystals form clusters of subhedral to euhedral, randomly-oriented olivine, clinopyroxene, olivine–plagioclase, and olivine–plagioclase–clinopyroxene that texturally resemble primary magmatic crystals. We propose that natural peritectic crystals with short residence times form clusters of one or more minerals with textures as those of our experiments, and that peritectic crystals with longer residence times likely anneal to subhedral or euhedral single crystals or coarse-grained mineral clusters. They hold crucial evidence for largely assimilated country-rock components and estimates of open-system magma evolution, but the longer their magma residence time the more easily they are overlooked.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 16, 2010 - 4:52:02 PM
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Saskia Erdmann, Bruno Scaillet, D.A. Kellett. Xenocryst assimilation and formation of peritectic crystals during magma contamination: An experimental study. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Elsevier, 2010, 198 (3-4), pp.355-367. ⟨10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.10.002⟩. ⟨insu-00534451⟩



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