The geochemical evolution of the Aucanquilcha Volcanic Cluster : prolonged magmatism and its crustal consequences Public Deposited


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  • The interaction of magma with continental crust at convergent margins is fundamental to understanding if and how continents grow. Isotopic and elemental data constrain the progressive stages of development of the magmatic underpinnings of the long-lived Aucanquilcha Volcanic Cluster (AVC), situated atop the thick continental crust of the central Andes in northern Chile. Whole rock data are used in conjunction with mineral compositions to infer processes that gave rise to eleven million years of intermediate, dominantly dacite, arc volcanism. A pulse of volcanic activity at the AVC between ~5 and 2 Ma is bracketed by more sluggish rates. We document chemical changes in the lavas that accompany this eruptive evolution. Trace element data suggest that crystal fractionation and magma mixing were the dominant mechanisms generating the diversity observed in the AVC whole rock data. Fractionation was dominant during early and waning stages of magmatism, and magma mixing was an important process during the high flux period. Peak thermal maturity of the AVC underpinnings coincided with the high magma flux and likely promoted open system processes during this time. Mineral compositions from zircon, amphibole, pyroxene, and Fe-Ti oxides confirm the importance of material recycling in the production of evolved AVC rocks. Various geothermometers were employed to calculate the pre-eruptive conditions of AVC magma using mineral compositions. Pressure estimates from amphibole and two-pyroxene barometry indicate crystallization depths of 1 – 5 kb and 4 – 6 kb, respectively. Temperature estimates from zircon, Fe-Ti oxides, amphiboles, and pyroxenes indicate temperatures ranging from ~700°C to 1100°C. Zircon temperatures are always the lowest (700°C - 950°C), and pyroxene temperatures are always the highest (1000°C - 1100°C), with Fe-Ti oxide and amphiboles temperatures falling in between. U-Pb ages from zircons and thermometry from individual samples evidence the thermal maturation and consolidation of the underpinnings below the AVC, presumably culminating in a large, crystal-rich mush zone where magmas were trapped and processed. It is in these middle to upper crustal zones where magmatic diversity is attenuated and giant, relatively homogeneous batholiths are formed. Isotopes of AVC lavas are similar to values observed from other central Andes volcanic centers. Lead isotopes are consistent with the AVC's location within a Pb isotope transition zone between the Antofalla and Arequipa basement terranes. Oxygen and Sr isotopic ratios are high and Nd isotopic ratios low with respect to a depleted mantle. Through time, ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr values of AVC lavas progressively increase from lows of ~0.70507 to ~0.70579 (upper values of 0.70526 to 0.70680), and εNd values decrease from highs of -1.0 to -4.6 (lows of -1.6 to -7.3). Similarly, O isotopes (δ¹⁸O) show a slight increase in base level through time from lows of 6.5‰ to 7.0‰ (highs of 6.75‰ – 7.5‰). Dy/Yb and Sm/Yb ratios also increased systematically from highs of 2.11 to 3.45, and 2.76 to 6.67, respectively. Despite the temporal isotopic variation, there is little isotopic variation with indices of fractionation, suggesting this signal is the consequence of deep magmatic processing, here attributed to an expanding zone of melting, assimilation, storage, and homogenization (MASH) of mantle-derived magma in the deep crust. Upward expansion brought the MASH zone into contact with rocks that were increasingly evolved with respect to Sr and Nd isotopes, explaining the isotopic shifts. Downward expansion of the MASH zone enhanced garnet stability during basalt fractionation, explaining the increased Dy/Yb and Sm/Yb ratios. Mass balance calculations involving Sr, Nd, and O isotope modeling are consistent with a crustal component making up 10 - 30% of AVC lavas, implying that although the history of central Andean magmatism is replete with large scale crustal recycling, the current phase is largely a crust formation event.
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