Immiscible metallic melts in the upper mantle beneath Mount Carmel, Israel: Silicides, phosphides, and carbides

William L. Griffin, Sarah E.M. Gain, Martin J. Saunders, Jin Xiang Huang, Olivier Alard, Vered Toledo, Suzanne Y. O'Reilly

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Xenolithic corundum aggregates in Cretaceous mafic pyroclastics from Mount Carmel contain pockets of silicate melts with mineral assemblages [SiC (moissanite), TiC, Ti2O3 (tistarite), Fe-Ti-Zr silicides/phosphides] indicative of magmatic temperatures and oxygen fugacity (fO2) at least 6 log units below the iron-wüstite buffer (ΔIW ≤ -6). Microstructural evidence indicates that immiscible, carbon-rich metallic (Fe-Ti-Zr-Si-P) melts separated during the crystallization of the silicate melts. The further evolution of these metallic melts was driven by the crystallization of two main ternary phases (FeTiSi and FeTiSi2) and several near-binary phases, as well as the separation of more evolved immiscible melts. Reconstructed melt compositions fall close to cotectic curves in the Fe-Ti-Si system, consistent with trapping as metallic liquids. Temperatures estimated from comparisons with experimental work range from ≥1500 °C to ca. 1150 °C; these probably are maximum values due to the solution of C, H, P, and Zr. With decreasing temperature (T), the Si, Fe, and P contents of the Fe-Ti-Si melts increased, while contents of Ti and C decreased. The increase in Si with declining T implies a corresponding decrease in fO2, probably to ca. ΔIW-9. The solubility of P in the metallic melts declined with T and fO2, leading to immiscibility between Fe-Ti-Si melts and (Ti,Zr)-(P,Si) melts. Decreasing T and fO2 also reduced the solubility of C in the liquid metal, driving the continuous crystallization of TiC and SiC during cooling. The lower-T metallic melts are richer in Cr, and to some extent V, as predicted by experimental studies showing that Cr and V become more siderophile with decreasing fO2. These observations emphasize the importance of melt-melt immiscibility for the evolution of magmas under reducing conditions. The low fO2 and the abundance of carbon in the Mt. Carmel system are consistent with a model in which differentiating melts were fluxed by fluids that were dominated by CH4+H2, probably derived from a metal-saturated sublithospheric mantle. A compilation of other occurrences suggests that these phenomena may commonly accompany several types of explosive volcanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-549
Number of pages18
JournalAmerican Mineralogist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2022


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