Cumulate xenoliths from St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles Island Arc: A window into upper crustal differentiation of mantle-derived basalts

P. M E Tollan, I. Bindeman, J. D. Blundy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


In order to shed light on upper crustal differentiation of mantle-derived basaltic magmas in a subduction zone setting, we have determined the mineral chemistry and oxygen and hydrogen isotope composition of individual cumulus minerals in plutonic blocks from St. Vincent, Lesser Antilles. Plutonic rock types display great variation in mineralogy, from olivine-gabbros to troctolites and hornblendites, with a corresponding variety of cumulate textures. Mineral compositions differ from those in erupted basaltic lavas from St. Vincent and in published high-pressure (4-10 kb) experimental run products of a St. Vincent high-Mg basalt in having higher An plagioclase coexisting with lower Fo olivine. The oxygen isotope compositions (δ 18O) of cumulus olivine (4. 89-5. 18‰), plagioclase (5. 84-6. 28‰), clinopyroxene (5. 17-5. 47‰) and hornblende (5. 48-5. 61‰) and hydrogen isotope composition of hornblende (δD = -35. 5 to -49. 9‰) are all consistent with closed system magmatic differentiation of a mantle-derived basaltic melt. We employed a number of modelling exercises to constrain the origin of the chemical and isotopic compositions reported. δ 18O Olivine is up to 0. 2‰ higher than modelled values for closed system fractional crystallisation of a primary melt. We attribute this to isotopic disequilibria between cumulus minerals crystallising at different temperatures, with equilibration retarded by slow oxygen diffusion in olivine during prolonged crustal storage. We used melt inclusion and plagioclase compositions to determine parental magmatic water contents (water saturated, 4. 6 ± 0. 5 wt% H 2O) and crystallisation pressures (173 ± 50 MPa). Applying these values to previously reported basaltic and basaltic andesite lava compositions, we can reproduce the cumulus plagioclase and olivine compositions and their associated trend. We conclude that differentiation of primitive hydrous basalts on St. Vincent involves crystallisation of olivine and Cr-rich spinel at depth within the crust, lowering MgO and Cr 2O 3 and raising Al 2O 3 and CaO of residual melt due to suppression of plagioclase. Low density, hydrous basaltic and basaltic andesite melts then ascend rapidly through the crust, stalling at shallow depth upon water saturation where crystallisation of the chemically distinct cumulus phases observed in this study can occur. Deposited crystals armour the shallow magma chamber where oxygen isotope equilibration between minerals is slowly approached, before remobilisation and entrainment by later injections of magma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-208
Number of pages20
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2012


  • Antilles
  • Crystallisation
  • Cumulates
  • Differentiation
  • Disequilibrium
  • Fractional
  • Hydrogen
  • Isotopes
  • Lesser
  • Oxygen
  • St. Vincent

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