Consequences of diffusive reequilibration for the interpretation of melt inclusions

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Geochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
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May 3
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Trace element abundances in melt inclusions are commonly used to interpret melting and melt extraction processes. These interpretations, however, often assume that the chemical compositions of melt inclusions are identical to the liquid from which the host crystal grew, even though driving forces for postentrapment diffusion and modification are demonstrable. This paper begins to quantify the effects of diffusion on melt inclusions using a numerical model. The model calculates the compositional evolution of a spherical inclusion which initially is in equilibrium with a crystal host out to some distance r(jump) and out of equilibrium beyond. In particular we consider the end-member scenario, whereby the trapped melt is initially out of equlibrium with the neighboring crystal as this sets the minimum time for reequilibration. A package of numerical codes is provided that allows the user to explore other initial conditions. The model calculates the change in inclusion composition and also the structure of diffusion halos that grow around the inclusion as it reequilibrates with the surrounding crystal. The detection of these profiles in naturally occurring inclusions may allow the time since entrapment and the initial inclusion concentration to be estimated. The extent of reequilibration is most strongly influenced by the partition coefficient, diffusivity, and the inclusion radius. Fast-diffusing elements with high mineral/melt partition coefficients are modified rapidly, particularly in small inclusions. Because minerals have very different D-mineral/melt for the various elements, the effects of diffusive reequilibration differ substantially from one mineral to another. For example, the higher partition coefficients of the heavy rare earth elements (HREE) in olivine make HREE concentrations easier to modify than light rare earth elements (LREE) concentrations. In contrast, Sr, Eu, and Ba in plagioclase hosted inclusions equilibrate more rapidly than the other trace elements. Examination of published trace element concentrations of olivine hosted inclusions show little evidence for reequilibration, at least for the light REE and other highly incompatible elements. It is difficult, however, to provide firm constraints due to the uncertainties in olivine diffusivities and the initial condition. In contrast, trace element diffusivities in plagioclase have been determined experimentally [Cherniak, 2001], and the trace element concentrations of published plagioclase hosted inclusions show evidence for extensive diffusive exchange with the host in a manner consistent with model predictions. Postentrapment modification therefore is likely an important factor in the interpretation of some melt inclusion data.


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Doi 10.1029/2001gc000205