Determining relative magma and host rock xenolith rheology during magmatic fabric formation in plutons: Examples from the middle and upper crust


Field observations, structural analysis, and analytical calculations are utilized to evaluate the strength of intermediate magmas during crystallization in a regional strain field. Two plutons are examined, the subvolcanic 98 Ma old Jackass Lakes pluton, central Sierra Nevada, California, and the voluminous middle crustal 442 Ma old Andalshatten pluton, central Norway. The Andalshatten example contains millimeter-to kilometer-scale xenoliths that display evidence for synmagmatic deformation, including fold reactivation and boudinage, after being isolated in the magma. Fabrics within the pluton adjacent to the xenoliths are usually magmatic, with only local, discontinuous zones of crystal-plastic deformation <1 m from the xenolith contact. Examination of particularly well exposed mafic metavolcanic xenoliths in the Jackass Lakes pluton indicates that all were strained prior to incorporation and then separated from the remaining host rock by brittle cracking. Once isolated from the host rocks, some of these xenoliths were intruded by veins fed by the in situ draining of melt and magma from the surrounding crystal mush zone. The xenoliths continued to deform ductilely at presumably fast strain rates. Axial-planar magmatic foliations within folded granodioritic dikes within xenoliths are parallel to magmatic foliations throughout the Jackass Lakes pluton and metamorphic foliations within the host rocks, indicating that the xenolith deformation occurred within the regional 98 Ma old strain field that affected the pluton. The behavior of these xenoliths suggests that late in the crystallization history, magmas in both middle crustal and subvolcanic settings behaved as a high-strength crystal-melt mush capable of transmitting deviatoric stresses, which drove both elastic and plastic deformation in the enclosed xenoliths. Simultaneously, intercrystalline melt, and in some cases magma, was drained from the host intrusions into the xenoliths. Rheological modeling based on geochemical data yields an effective viscosity of a crystal-free melt of ~104 Pa s and increased to ~107 Pa s as cooling proceeded to 758 °C and crystal content approached 40% for the Jackass Lakes pluton. Such viscosities are too low to impart or transmit deformation into the xenoliths. The preservation of xenoliths in both plutons is compatible with higher crystallinities and/or magma yield strengths as an explanation to arrest the xenoliths in their final position and allow deformation. Estimated effective viscosities considering magma yield strength and measured density variables (melt and solid) are ~1013 Pa s. © 2009 Geological Society of America.


Geosphere is open access. Users have the right to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles.



Yoshinobu, A.S., Wolak, J.M., Paterson, S.R., Pignotta, G.S., & Anderson, H.S.. 2009. Determining relative magma and host rock xenolith rheology during magmatic fabric formation in plutons: Examples from the middle and upper crust. Geosphere, 5(3).