Critical porosity of melt segregation during crustal melting: Constraints from zonation of peritectic garnets in a dacite volcano
Xun Yu* and Cin-Ty Lee
Earth and Planetary Science Letters
Volume 449, 1 September 2016, Pages 127–134
The presence of leucogranitic dikes in orogenic belts suggests that partial melting may be an important process in the lower crust of active orogenies. Low seismic velocity and low electrical resistivity zones have been observed in the lower crust of active mountain belts and have been argued to reflect the presence of partial melt in the deep crust, but volcanoes are rare or absent above many of these inferred melt zones. Understanding whether these low velocity zones are melt-bearing, and if so, why they do not commonly erupt, is essential for understanding the thermal and rheologic structure of the crust and its dynamic evolution. Central to this problem is an understanding of how much melt can be stored before it can escape from the crust via compaction and eventually erupt. Experimental and theoretical studies predict trapped melt fractions anywhere from <5% to >30%. Here, we examine Mn growth-zoning in peritectic garnets in a Miocene dacite volcano from the ongoing Betic–Rif orogeny in southern Spain to estimate the melt fraction at the time of large-scale melt extraction that subsequently led to eruption. We show that the melt fraction at segregation, corresponding approximately to the critical melt porosity, was ∼30%, implying significant amounts of melt can be stored in the lower crust without draining or erupting. However, seismic velocities in the lower crust beneath active orogenic belts (southern Spain and Tibet) as well as beneath active magmatic zones (e.g., Yellowstone hotspot) correspond to average melt porosities of <10%, suggesting that melt porosities approaching critical values are short-lived or that high melt porosity regions are localized into heterogeneously distributed sills or dikes, which individually cannot be resolved by seismic studies.