Petrology and geochemistry of the 2014–2015 Holuhraun eruption, central Iceland

The 2014–2015 Holuhraun eruption in Iceland was one of the most closely monitored and sampled basaltic fissure eruptions to have ever taken place. In this paper lead by Sæmundur A. Halldórsson and many other scholars from Iceland and beyond we present a comprehensive collection of glass, mineral and whole-rock data. The geochemistry of the eruption products firmly locate it within the Bárðarbunga volcanic system. By carrying out careful geothermobarometry, we infer that the magma was stored at 8 ± 5 km prior to eruption, in excellent agreement with independent petrological, geophysical and geodetic observations (e.g., Hartley et al., 2018; Gudmundsson et al., 2016). Although the erupted magma is extremely homogeneous in composition, complexity in its crystal cargo reveals that the it was ultimately assembled from heterogeneous mantle melts that underwent crystallisation and mixing in the lower- to mid-crust.

Backscattered electron (BSE) image of a complexly zoned clinopyroxene from the 2014–2015 Holuhraun lava.

Publication

Halldórsson, S.A., Bali, E., Hartley, M.E., Neave, D.A., Peate, D.W., Gudfinnson, G., Bindeman, I., Whitehouse, M., et al. Petrology and geochemistry of the 2014–2015 Holuhraun eruption, central Iceland: Compositional and mineralogical characteristics, temporal variability and magma storage. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology,173:64.

Mantle-derived trace element variability in olivines and their melt inclusions

Olivine is almost ubiquitous in primitive basalts, making it an excellent tool for investigating early phases of magmatic evolution and mantle melting conditions. For example, studies of olivine-hosted melt inclusions have provided crucial insights into primitive melt variability, deep magma mixing (e.g., Neave et al., 2013) and the behaviour of volatiles during magma transport from the mantle to the surface (e.g., Neave et al., 2012; 2014). It has also been proposed that the compatible trace-element (CTE) content of olivines themselves provides information about lithological heterogeneity in the mantle (e.g., Sobolev et al., 2007), though the causes of such CTE variability remain highly debated (e.g., Matzen et al., 2017).

In this paper with Oliver Shorttle and Martin Oeser, I present both CTE and incompatible trace-element (ITE) data from primitive Icelandic olivines that we use check the validity of melt inclusion records and investigate causes of geochemical variability in olivine macrocrysts themselves. We demonstrate that olivine macrocrysts are capable of preserving similar patterns of compositional variability to melt inclusions on intra- and inter-eruption lengthscales, and may allow degrees of magma enrichment to be reconstructed in samples where matrix glasses are degraded or absent.

An X-ray map of P in an olivine from the Stapafell eruption. Almost no P zoning can be observed in the olivine; boundary layer crystallisation seems unimportant. This image is approximately 1 mm across.

Although olivines from our enriched case study eruption, Stapafell, are slightly richer in Ni than those from our depleted case study eruption, Háleyjabunga, the CTE content of both eruptions are wholly consistent with melt supply from a peridotitic source. However, independent constraints from the combined major and trace element systematics of Icelandic basalts indicate that enriched melts come from a modally enriched source (Shorttle & Maclennan, 2011); enriched Icelandic basalts are too rich in iron to be derived by melting of depleted mantle. We therefore conclude that enriched domains in the Icelandic mantle are composed of modally enriched peridotite not pyroxenite, and that olivine CTE contents provide an incomplete picture of lithological heterogeneity in the mantle.

Publication

Neave, D.A., Shorttle, O., Oeser, M., Weyer, S. & Katsura, K. 2018. Mantle-derived trace element variability in olivines and their melt inclusions. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 483, 90–104.

GeoBremen2017: Biases in the geochemical record of oceanic magmatism

At the end of summer 2017, I gave a talk at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Mineralogische Gesellschaft (DMG) at GeoBremen2017. My talk focussed on the results of my 3-kbar experiments on primtive Icelandic basalts, and how they show that depleted mantle melts are much less likely to survive being processed during their ascent through the crust than enriched melts. In other words, enriched melts are more likely to erupt at the surface and depleted melts are more likely to freeze at depth, fundamentally biasing the record of oceanic magmatism we see at the surface. You can download my slides here.

Experimental liquid lines of descent (LLD) for melts from the depleted Háleyjabunga (Hál) and enriched Stapafell (Sta) eruptions. Grey dots show Icelandic compositions from the Western Volcanic Zone and Reykjanes Peninsula (Shorttle & Maclennan, 2011). The arrow shows where compositions were resynthesised to mimic fractional crystallisation.