The Weaklaw Vent, SE Scotland: Metasomatism of eruptive products by carbo-hydro-fluids of probable mantle origin

Brian G. J. Upton*, Nic Odling, Linda A. Kirstein, John R. Underhill, Jacek Puziewicz, Theodore Ntaflos, Bogusław Bagiński, Steve Hillier, Jens C. Andersen, Gavin K. Rollinson, Jean Philippe Perrillat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The Weaklaw vent in SE Scotland (East Lothian coast), inferred to be Namurian, produced lava spatter and volcanic bombs. The latter commonly contained ultramafic xenoliths. All were metasomatised by carbonic fluids rich in incompatible elements. The lavas and xenoliths are inferred to have been basanites and lherzolites prior to metasomatism. The abundance and size of (carbonated) peridotite xenoliths at Weaklaw denotes unusual rapidity of magma ascent and high-energy eruption making Weaklaw exceptional in the British Isles. The lavas and xenoliths were altered subsequently by low-temperature (<200°C) carbo-hydrous fluids to carbonate, clay and quartz assemblages. A small irregular tuffisite 'dyke' that transects the ejecta is also composed dominantly of carbonates and clays. The peridotitic xenoliths are typically foliated, interpreted as originating as pre-entrainment mantle shear-planes. Analyses of the relic spinels shows them to be compositionally similar to spinels in local unaltered lherzolites from near-by basanitic occurrences. Chromium showed neither significant loss nor gain but was concentrated in a di-octahedral smectite allied to volkonskoite. It is in the complex association of smectite with other clays, chlorite and possibly fuchsite that the diverse incompatible elements are concentrated. We conclude that late Palaeozoic trans-tensional fault movement caused mantle shearing. Rapid ascent of basanite magma entrained large quantities of sheared lithospheric mantle. This was followed by ascent of an aggressive carbonate-/ hydroxyl-rich fluid causing pervasive metasomatism. The vent is unique in several ways: in its remarkable clay mineralogy and in displaying such high Cr-clays in a continental intra-plate setting; in being more productive in terms of its 'cargo' of peridotite xenoliths; in presenting an essentially un-eroded sequence of Namurian extrusives; and, not least, for giving evidence for post-eruptive, surface release of small-melt, deep-source fluids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)855-867
Number of pages13
JournalMineralogical Magazine
Issue number6
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019


  • basanite
  • chrome-rich smectite
  • mantle de-gassing
  • metasomatism
  • rare-element transport
  • sfaulting
  • spinel lherzolite xenolith
  • tuffisite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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