Experimental phase equilibria of a Mount St. Helens rhyodacite: A framework for interpreting crystallization paths in degassing silicic magmas

Jenny M. Riker*, Jonathan D. Blundy, Alison C. Rust, Roman E. Botcharnikov, Madeleine C S Humphreys

*Corresponding author for this work

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

29 Citations (Scopus)
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We present isothermal (885 °C) phase equilibrium experiments for a rhyodacite from Mount St. Helens (USA) at variable total pressure (25–457 MPa) and fluid composition (XH2Ofl = 0.6–1.0) under relatively oxidizing conditions (NNO to NNO + 3). Run products were characterized by SEM, electron microprobe, and SIMS. Experimental phase assemblages and phase chemistry are consistent with those of natural samples from Mount St. Helens from the last 4000 years. Our results emphasize the importance of pressure and melt H2O content in controlling phase proportions and compositions, showing how significant textural and compositional variability may be generated in the absence of mixing, cooling, or even decompression. Rather, variations in the bulk volatile content of magmas, and the potential for fluid migration relative to surrounding melts, mean that magmas may take varied trajectories through pressure–fluid composition space during storage, transport, and eruption. We introduce a novel method for projecting isothermal phase equilibria into CO2–H2O space (as conventionally done for melt inclusions) and use this projection to interpret petrological data from Mount St. Helens dacites. By fitting the experimental data as empirical functions of melt water content, we show how different scenarios of isothermal magma degassing (e.g., water-saturated ascent, vapor-buffered ascent, and vapor fluxing) can have quite different textural and chemical consequences. We explore how petrological data might be used to infer degassing paths of natural magmas and conclude that melt CO2 content is a much more useful parameter in this regard than melt H2O.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Number of pages22
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Early online date11 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • CO2
  • Crystallization
  • Magma degassing
  • Mount St. Helens
  • Phase equilibria
  • Volatiles


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