A mantle-derived origin for Mauritian trachytes
Prof. Lew Ashwal
School of Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Evolved rocks like trachyte occur as minor components of many plume-related basaltic ocean islands (e.g. Hawaii, Gran Canaria, Azores, Réunion), and are typically interpreted as products of extreme fractional crystallization from broadly basaltic magmas. Trachytes from Mauritius (Indian Ocean) suggest otherwise. Here, 6.8 Ma nepheline-bearing trachytes (SiO2 ~63%, Na2O + K2O ~12%) are enriched in all incompatible elements except Ba, Sr and Eu, which show prominent negative anomalies. Initial εNd values cluster at 4.03 ± 0.15 (n = 13), near the lower end of the range for Mauritian basalts (εNd = 3.70 – 5.75), but initial Sr is highly variable (ISr = 0.70408 – 0.71034) suggesting secondary deuteric alteration. Fractional crystallization models starting with a basaltic parent fail, because when plagioclase joins olivine in the crystallizing assemblage, residual liquids become depleted in Al2O3, produce no nepheline, and do not approach trachytic compositions. Mauritian basalts and trachytes do not fall near the ends of known miscibility gaps, eliminating liquid immiscibility processes. Partial melting of extant gabbroic bodies, either from the oceanic crust or from Réunion plume-related magmas should yield quartz-saturated melts different from the critically undersaturated Mauritian trachytes. A remaining possibility is that the trachytes represent direct, small-degree partial melts of fertile, perhaps metasomatized mantle. This is supported by the presence of trachytic glasses in many mantle xenoliths, and experimental results show that low-degree trachytic melts can be produced from mantle peridotites even under anhydrous conditions. If some feldspar is left behind as a residual phase, this would account for the negative Ba, Sr and Eu anomalies observed in Mauritian trachytes. Two trachyte samples that are less depleted in these elements contain xenocrysts of anorthoclase, Al-rich cpx and Cl-rich kaersutite that are out of equilibrium with host trachyte magmas; these may represent fragments of a refertilized mantle source. A model of direct, low-degree partial melting of metasomatized mantle may apply to other worldwide examples of evolved rocks in ocean islands.