The genesis of intermediate and silicic magmas in deep crustal hot zones

C Annen, J D Blundy, R S J Sparks

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

1538 Citations (Scopus)


A model for the generation of intermediate and silicic igneous rocks is presented, based on experimental data and numerical modelling. The model is directed at subduction-related magmatism, but has general applicability to magmas generated in other plate tectonic settings, including continental rift zones. In the model mantle-derived hydrous basalts emplaced as a succession of sills into the lower crust generate a deep crustal hot zone. Numerical modelling of the hot zone shows that melts are generated from two distinct sources; partial crystallization of basalt sills to produce residual H2O-rich melts; and partial melting of pre-existing crustal rocks. Incubation times between the injection of the first sill and generation of residual melts from basalt crystallization are controlled by the initial geotherm, the magma input rate and the emplacement depth. After this incubation period, the melt fraction and composition of residual melts are controlled by the temperature of the crust into which the basalt is intruded. Heat and H2O transfer from the crystallizing basalt promote partial melting of the surrounding crust, which can include meta-sedimentary and meta-igneous basement rocks and earlier basalt intrusions. Mixing of residual and crustal partial melts leads to diversity in isotope and trace element chemistry. Hot zone melts are H2O-rich. Consequently, they have low viscosity and density, and can readily detach from their source and ascend rapidly. In the case of adiabatic ascent the magma attains a super-liquidus state, because of the relative slopes of the adiabat and the liquidus. This leads to resorption of any entrained crystals or country rock xenoliths. Crystallization begins only when the ascending magma intersects its H2O-saturated liquidus at shallow depths. Decompression and degassing are the driving forces behind crystallization, which takes place at shallow depth on timescales of decades or less. Degassing and crystallization at shallow depth lead to large increases in viscosity and stalling of the magma to form volcano-feeding magma chambers and shallow plutons. It is proposed that chemical diversity in arc magmas is largely acquired in the lower crust, whereas textural diversity is related to shallow-level crystallization.

Translated title of the contributionThe genesis of intermediate and silicic magmas in deep crustal hot zones
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-539
Number of pages35
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2006

Bibliographical note

Publisher: Oxford University Press


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