Magmatic evolution of the basaltic shield volcanoes of Reunion Island

John N. Ludden*

*Corresponding author for this work

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical data are presented for the basic lavas of the two volcanic shields, Piton des Neiges and Piton de la Fournaise, which comprise Reunion Island. In addition, data for cumulate xenoliths have been used to predict mineral/melt distribution coefficient values for the Reunion magmas. The younger volcanic shield, Piton de la Fournaise, comprises two lava sequences, the >0.5-0.2-m.y. B.P. Primary Shield lavas, and the <0.2-m.y. B.P. Caldera Series lavas. Fractional crystallization models for these lavas indicate that olivine is the major fractionating phase during the evolution from the parental basalt composition to the average basaltic liquid. Only during the evolution of the older, Primary Shield lavas has the common fractionation of an ol + cpx + plag + mt assemblage resulted in the eruption of hawaiitic, ankaramitic and feldspar-phyric lavas. The restriction of the Caldera Series liquids predominantly to olivine fractionation and the extensive cotectic fractionation during the evolution of the Primary Shield sequences is interpreted in terms of the maturity of the volcanic center. The younger stages of evolution involve high magma input into a well-developed feeder and reservoir system, thus maintaining the liquids above a cotectic surface. Whereas, during the evolution of the Primary Shield lavas, lower magma input rates into a less well-developed feeder system increased the probability of the fractionating liquid attaining a cotectic surface. Fractional crystallization accounts for all the chemical variation observed for the Piton de la Fournaise basaltic magmas. The analytical data are closely comparable to the rare earth element (REE) and trace element fractionation curves predicted by least-squares calculations, this supports the use of such models in quantitative evaluation of fractional crystallization. A preliminary survey of Sr isotope values indicates that the oldest (>2 m.y. B.P.) lava sequences of Piton des Neiges may be derived from a source which was isotopically distinct from that of the <2 m.y. B.P. lavas of both volcanic shields. These latter sequences are remarkably consistent in both isotopic and trace element abundance implying a homogeneous source material and an invariable partial melting process. Partial melting calculations indicate that the basaltic lavas have been derived by 5-10% melting of a garnet-poor peridotite (cpx/gt ∼ 9). Systematic differences in the light- and heavy-REE patterns between similar basaltic provinces are interpreted to be a result of variation in the nature of the phases buffering the entry of light- and/or heavy-REE into the melt during partial fusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-198
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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