Eruption of shallow crystal cumulates during explosive phonolitic eruptions on Tenerife, Canary Islands

J. T. Sliwinski*, O. Bachmann, B. S. Ellis, P. Dávila-Harris, B. K. Nelson, J. Dufek

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


The recent eruptive history on the island of Tenerife is characterized in part by the presence of zoned phonolitic ignimbrites, some of which prominently display two types of juvenile clasts (i.e. light-colored, aphyric pumices alongside darker, more crystal-rich pumices, here dubbed 'crystalpoor' and 'crystal-rich', respectively). Petrographic observation of the crystal-rich pumices reveals intensely resorbed and intergrown mineral textures, consistent with the system reaching a high crystallinity, followed by perturbation and remobilization prior to eruption. Some trace elements show anomalous concentrations in such crystal-rich pumices (e.g. bulk Ba>2000ppm alongside low Zr and a positive Eu anomaly) indicative of crystal accumulation (of feldspar ± biotite). Many biotite and feldspar crystals are reversely zoned, with rim concentrations that are high in Ba but low in Sr, implying crystallization from an 'enriched' melt, potentially derived from remobilization by partial melting of the aforementioned cumulate zones. Given (1) the presence of cumulates in the eruptive record on Tenerife and a bimodality of pumice textures, (2) the presence of three dominant compositions (basanite, phonotephrite, phonolite, separated by compositional gaps) in the volcanic record, and (3) abundant support for crystal fractionation as the dominant drive for magmatic evolution in Tenerife, it is hypothesized that crystal-poor magmas are extracted from mushy reservoirs in both the lower and upper crust. The thermodynamic software MELTS is used to test a polybaric differentiation model whereby phonolites (sensu lato) are generated by extraction of residual liquids from an intermediate-crystallinity phonotephritic mush in the upper crust, which is in turn generated from the residual liquids of an intermediate-crystallinity basanitic mush at deeper levels. Latent heat spikes following crystallization of successive phases in the upper crustal reservoir provide a thermal buffering mechanism to slow down cooling and crystallization, permitting enhanced melt extraction at a particular crystallinity interval (mostly ~40-60 vol. % crystals). MELTS modeling typically fits the observed chemical data adequately, although some major elements (mostly Al2O3) also indicate partial 'cannibalization' of feldspar along with some magma mixing (and potentially minor crustal contamination).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2173-2194
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Petrology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • Alkaline magmatism
  • Fractional crystallization
  • Mineral chemistry
  • Rhyolite-MELTS
  • Tenerife


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