Primary alkaline magmas associated with the Quaternary Alligator Lake volcanic complex, Yukon Territory, Canada

G. E. Eiché*, D. M. Francis, J. N. Ludden

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The Alligator Lake complex is a Quaternary alkaline volcanic center located in the southern Yukon Territory of Canada. It comprises two cinder cones which cap a shield consisting of five distinct lava units of basaltic composition. Units 2 and 3 of this shield are primitive olivine-phyric lavas (13.5-19.5 cation % Mg) which host abundant spinel lherzolite xenoliths, megacrysts, and granitoid fragments. Although the two lava types have erupted coevally from adjacent vents and are petrographically similar, they are chemically distinct. Unit 2 lavas have considerably higher abundances of LREE, LILE, and Fe, but lower HREE, Y, Ca, Si, and Al relative to unit 3 lavas. The 87Sr/86Sr and 143Nd/144Nd isotopic ratios of these two units are, however, indistinguishable. The differences between these two lava types cannot be explained in terms of low pressure olivine fractionation, and the low concentrations of Sr, Nb, P, and Ti in the granitoid xenoliths relative to the primitive lavas discounts differential crustal contamination. The abundance of spinel lherzolite xenoliths and the high Mg contents in the lavas of both units indicates that their compositional differences originated in the upper mantle. The Al and Si systematics of these lavas suggests that, compared to unit 3 magmas, the unit 2 magmas may have segregated at greater depths from a garnet lherzolite mantle. The identical isotopic composition and similar ratios of highly incompatible elements in these two lava units argues against their differences being a consequence of random metasomatism or mantle heterogeneity. The lower Y and HREE contents but higher concentrations of incompatible elements in the unit 2 lavas relative to unit 3 can be most simply explained by differential partial melting of similar garnet-bearing sources. The unit 2 magmas thus appear to have been generated by smaller degrees of melting at a greater depth than the unit 3 magmas. The contemporaneous eruption of two distinct but volumetrically restricted primary magmas from adjacent vents at the Alligator Lake volcanic complex suggests that volcanism in this region of the Canadian Cordillera is controlled by localized, small batch processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-201
Number of pages11
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1987

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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