Magmatic fractionation by compositional convection in a sheet-like magma body: Constraints from the Nosappumisaki intrusion, Northern Japan

Rayko Simura, Kazuhito Ozawa

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10 Citations (Scopus)


The mechanism of fractionation in a sheet-like magma body was investigated based on observations from the Nosappumisaki intrusion, northern Japan. This is one of a number of late Cretaceous shoshonite sills in the Nemuro peninsula and has a compound structure comprising a bottom cumulate zone containing ~50 vol. % cumulus crystals and a overlying middle zone free of such cumulus crystals. These zones are sandwiched between porphyritic rocks of upper and lower chilled and marginal zones. It is inferred that massive crystal settling or flotation from a magma initially laden with ~20 vol. % of crystals (primocrysts) in a sheet-like magma body formed a cumulus pile and an overlying crystal-free melt layer. After the formation of the compound structure with partial freezing of the upper and lower marginal zones, the internal part of the intrusion slowly solidified. During this period the melt in the central part of the intrusive sheet underwent fractional crystallization. This is shown by patterns of vertical variation in the composition of the interstitial melt. The overall patterns are inverted (mirror-image) S-shaped and S-shaped for incompatible and compatible elements, respectively. The incompatible element abundances show maxima near the bottom of the middle zone, which corresponds to the final solidification horizon. They show minima in the cumulate zone, which suggests discharge of an evolved melt from the crystal pile. Fractionation is inferred to have taken place via compositional convection without settling of crystals grown after the intrusion event or collapse of the upper boundary layer. The melt in the central melt layer descended into the permeable crystal pile counterbalancing discharge of buoyant evolved melt formed by crystallization of the pore melt in the crystal pile. This conclusion is based on the following observations. (1) There is no accumulation of crystals grown after the intrusion of the magma above the cumulate zone. (2) Leucocratic pipe-like structures, which represent relict pathways for the evolved melt, are developed in the cumulate zone. These structures increase in diameter, decrease in number density, and increase in abundance of incompatible elements with height. (3) Cumulus augite in the cumulate zone has Ca-rich and Al-poor dissolved rims. The extent of dissolution increases with stratigraphic height, suggesting downwelling of an H. 2O-rich melt from the overlying melt layer. (4) There is no evidence for extensive compaction accompanying pore melt crystallization in the main part of the cumulate zone. (5) The initial melt composition estimated from the groundmass of the chilled margin rocks and the average composition of the material interstitial to the primocrysts for the whole sill are statistically identical. A mass-balance model for compositional convection was constructed to quantify the melt transportation processes. Model parameters were optimized by fitting the observed vertical variation of the interstitial melt compositions. The optimized results suggest that the evolved melts discharged from the crystal pile and rose through the central melt layer as plumes with minor mingling with the surrounding melt. The initially formed compound structure is a highly preferential environment for compositional convection.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberegr034
Pages (from-to)1887-1925
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct


  • Boundary layer
  • Compositional convection
  • Dolerite
  • Fractional crystallization
  • Magma chamber
  • Sill


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