Widespread phosphorous excess in olivine, rapid crystal growth, and implications for magma dynamics

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Cin-Ty Lee
Chenguang Sun
Eytan Sharton-Bierig
Patrick Phelps
Jackson Borchardt
Boda Liu
Gelu Costin
A Dana Johnston


Trace element zoning is often used to unravel the crystallization history of phenocrysts in magmatic systems, but interpretation requires quantifying the relative importance of equilibrium versus disequilibrium. Published partition coefficients for phosphorous (P) in olivine vary by more than a factor of ten. After considering kinetic effects, a new equilibrium partition coefficient was extrapolated from a re-examination of natural and experimental systems, indicating that P partition coefficients in olivine are significantly over-estimated. These new partitioning constraints allow us to establish a theoretical P Equilibrium Fractionation Array (PEFA) for mid-ocean ridge basalts (MORBs), revealing that most olivines from MORBs have excess P (2–15 times PEFA) and are thus in disequilibrium. Using an independent case study of natural dendritic olivines, we show that such P enrichments can be explained by diffusion-limited incorporation of P during rapid crystal growth. If growth rate can be related to cooling, the rapid growth rates of olivines have implications for magma system dynamics, such as the size of magma bodies or where crystallization occurs within the body.


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How to Cite
Lee, C.-T., Sun, C., Sharton-Bierig, E., Phelps, P., Borchardt, J., Liu, B., Costin, G. and Johnston, A. D. (2022) “Widespread phosphorous excess in olivine, rapid crystal growth, and implications for magma dynamics”, Volcanica, 5(2), pp. 433–450. doi: 10.30909/vol.05.02.433450.
Received 2021-12-27
Accepted 2022-09-27
Published 2022-11-18