Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Perspectives on basaltic magma crystallization and differentiation: Lava-lake blocks erupted at Mauna Loa volcano summit, Hawaii

January 1, 2006

Explosive eruptions at Mauna Loa summit ejected coarse-grained blocks (free of lava coatings) from Moku'aweoweo caldera. Most are gabbronorites and gabbros that have 0–26 vol.% olivine and 1–29 vol.% oikocrystic orthopyroxene. Some blocks are ferrogabbros and diorites with micrographic matrices, and diorite veins (≤2 cm) cross-cut some gabbronorites and gabbros. One block is an open-textured dunite.

The MgO of the gabbronorites and gabbros ranges ∼ 7–21 wt.%. Those with MgO >10 wt.% have some incompatible-element abundances (Zr, Y, REE; positive Eu anomalies) lower than those in Mauna Loa lavas of comparable MgO; gabbros (MgO <10 wt.%) generally overlap lava compositions. Olivines range Fo83–58, clinopyroxenes have Mg#s ∼83–62, and orthopyroxene Mg#s are 84–63 — all evolved beyond the mineral-Mg#s of Mauna Loa lavas. Plagioclase is An75–50. Ferrogabbro and diorite blocks have ∼ 3–5 wt.% MgO (TiO2 3.2–5.4%; K2O 0.8–1.3%; La 16–27 ppm), and a diorite vein is the most evolved (SiO2 59%, K2O 1.5%, La 38 ppm). They have clinopyroxene Mg#s 67–46, and plagioclase An57–40. The open-textured dunite has olivine ∼ Fo83.5. Seven isotope ratios are 87Sr/86Sr 0.70394–0.70374 and 143Nd/144Nd 0.51293–0.51286, and identify the suite as belonging to the Mauna Loa system.

Gabbronorites and gabbros originated in solidification zones of Moku'aweoweo lava lakes where they acquired orthocumulate textures and incompatible-element depletions. These features suggest deeper and slower cooling lakes than the lava lake paradigm, Kilauea Iki, which is basalt and picrite. Clinopyroxene geobarometry suggests crystallization at <1 kbar P. Highly evolved mineral Mg#s, <75, are largely explained by cumulus phases exposed to evolving intercumulus liquids causing compositional ‘shifts.’ Ferrogabbro and diorite represent segregation veins from differentiated intercumulus liquids filter pressed into rigid zones of cooling lakes. Clinopyroxene geobarometry suggests <300 bar P. Open-textured dunite represents olivine-melt mush, precursor to vertical olivine-rich bodies (as in Kilauea Iki). Its Fo83.5 identifies the most primitive lake magma as ∼8.3 wt.% MgO. Mass balancing and MELTS show that such a magma could have yielded both ferrogabbro and diorite by ≥50% fractional crystallization, but under different fO2: < FMQ (250 bar) led to diorite, and FMQ (250 bar) yielded ferrogabbro. These segregation veins, documented as similar to those of Kilauea, testify to appreciable volumes of ‘rhyolitic’ liquid forming in oceanic environments. Namely, SiO2-rich veins are intrinsic to all shields that reached caldera stage to accommodate various-sized cooling, differentiating lava lakes.

Publication Year 2006
Title Perspectives on basaltic magma crystallization and differentiation: Lava-lake blocks erupted at Mauna Loa volcano summit, Hawaii
DOI 10.1016/j.lithos.2006.03.005
Authors Renee L. McCarter, R.V. Fodor, Frank A. Trusdell
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title LITHOS
Index ID 70028292
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program