Rais Latypov, Sofya Chistyakova, Richard A. Hornsey, Gelu Costin & Mauritz van der Merwe
Several recent studies have argued that large, long-lived and molten magma chambers may not occur in the shallow Earth’s crust. Here we present, however, field-based observations from the Bushveld Complex that provide evidence to the contrary. In the eastern part of the complex, the magmatic layering continuously drapes across a ~ 4-km-high sloping step in the chamber floor. Such deposition of magmatic layering implies that the resident melt column was thicker than the stepped relief of the chamber floor. Prolonged internal differentiation within this thick magma column is further supported by evolutionary trends in crystallization sequence and mineral compositions through the sequence. The resident melt column in the Bushveld chamber during this period is estimated at > 5-km in thickness and > 380,000 km3 in volume. This volume of magma is three orders of magnitude larger than any known super-eruption in the Earth’s history and is only comparable to the extrusive volumes of some of Earth’s large igneous provinces. This suggests that super-large, entirely molten, and long-lived magma chambers occur, at least occasionally, in the geological history of our planet. Therefore, the classical view of magma chambers as ‘big magma tanks’ remains a viable research concept for some of Earth’s magmatic provinces.
Latypov, R., Chistyakova, S., Hornsey, R. A. & Costin, G. (2022). A 5 ‑ km ‑ thick reservoir km 3 of magma within the ancient Earth ’ s crust. Scientific Reports. Nature Publishing Group UK 1–12. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-19915-w