Megacrystic pyroxene basalts sample deep crustal gabbroic cumulates beneath the Mount Taylor volcanic field, New Mexico

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Abstract

Distributed over the ~2.3 m.y. history of the alkaline and compositionally diverse Mount Taylor Volcanic Field (MTVF), New Mexico is a widespread texturally distinct family of differentiated basalts that contain resorbed megacrysts (up to 3 cm) of plagioclase, clinopyroxene, and olivine ± Ti-magnetite ± ilmenite ± orthopyroxene. These lavas have gabbroic cumulate inclusions with mineral compositions similar to the megacrysts, suggesting a common origin. Gabbroic and megacrystic clinopyroxenes form positive linear arrays in TiO2 (0.2-2.3 wt.%) with respect to Al2O3 (0.7-9.3 wt.%). Plagioclase (An41-80) from representative thin sections analyzed for 87Sr/86Sr by laser ablation ICP-MS range from 0.7036 to 0.7048. The low 87Sr/86Sr plagioclases (0.7036 to 0.7037) are associated with high Ti-Al clinopyroxenes. Likewise, the higher 87Sr/86Sr plagioclases (0.7043 to 0.7047) are associated with the low-Al clinopyroxenes. Taken together, the pyroxene and plagioclase megacrysts appear to track the differentiation of a gabbroic pluton (or related plutons) from alkaline to Si-saturated conditions by fractional crystallization and crustal assimilation. Clinopyroxene-liquid geobarometry calculations suggest that crystallization occurred near the crust-mantle transition at an average of ~1200 °C and 12-13 kbar. The distribution of the megacrystic pyroxene basalts suggests that a gabbroic intrusive body underlies subregions of the MTVF that have generated silicic magmas. The gabbro is interpreted to be a significant heat and mass input into the lower crust that is capable of driving the petrogenesis of diverse silicic compositions (through fractionation and crustal assimilation), including mugearites, trachytes, trachy-andesites and dacites, high-Si rhyolites, and topaz rhyolites of the MTVF.

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Schmidt, M. E., Schrader, C. M., Crumpler, L. S., Rowe, M. C., Wolff, J. A., & Boroughs, S. P. (2016). Megacrystic pyroxene basalts sample deep crustal gabbroic cumulates beneath the Mount Taylor volcanic field, New Mexico. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 316, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2016.02.020

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