Vapor-undersaturated experiments with Macusani glass+H2O at 200 MPa, and the internal differentiation of granitic pegmatites

David London, George B. Morgan, Richard Hervig

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    222 Scopus citations


    Vapor-undersaturated fractional crystallization experiments with Macusani glass (macusanite), a peraluminous rhyolite obsidian, at 200 MPa yield mineralogical fabrics and zonation, and melt fractionation trends that closely resemble those found in zoned granitic pegmatites and other granitoids of comparable composition (typically peraluminous, Li-Be-Ta-rich deposits). The zonation from the edge of charges inward is characterized by: (1) fine-grained sodic feldspar-quartz border zones; (2) a fringe of very coarse-grained graphic quartz-feldspar intergrowths that flair radially toward melt and terminate with nearly monophase K-feldspar; (3) cores of very coarse-grained, nearly monominerallic quartz or virgilite (LiAlSi5O12)±mica; and (4) late-stage, fine-grained albite+mica intergrowths that are deposited from alkaline, Na-rich interstitial melt at vapor saturation. Similar experimental products have been observed in compositionally simpler, less evolved systems. Liquid lines of descent from initially H2O-undersaturated runs are marked by a decrease in SiO2, and increases in Na/K, B, P, F, H2O, and a variety of trace lithophile cations. These trends are believed to be governed by three factors: (1) disequilibrium growth of feldspars (±quartz) via metastable supersaturation; (2) fractionation of melt toward SiO2-depleted, Na-rich compositions due to increases in B, P, and F; and (3) changes in nucleation and growth rates, mostly as a function of the H2O content of melt (Xwm). In contrast, experiments that are cooled below the liquidus from the field of melt+aqueous vapor (London et al. 1988) fail to replicate pegmatitic characteristics in most respects. On the basis of these and other experiments, we suggest that the formation of pegmatite fabrics stems primarily from fractional crystallization in volatile-rich melts, and that enrichments in normally trace lithophile elements result from melt differentiation trends toward increasingly alkaline, silica-depleted compositions. Although vapor saturation at near-solidus and subsolidus conditions may promote extensive recrystallization, an aqueous vapor phase does not appear to be necessary for the generation of most of the salient characteristics of pegmatites.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    Number of pages17
    JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1989

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Geophysics
    • Geochemistry and Petrology


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