EKU Faculty and Staff Scholarship


Open System Evolution of Peralkaline Trachyte and Phonolite from the Suswa Volcano, Kenya Rift

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John C. White ORCID iD iconhttps://orcid.org/0000-0001-5107-6847


Physics, Geosciences, and Astronomy

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Suswa is the southernmost volcanic center in the Central Kenya Peralkaline Province (CKPP) and represents the only salic center to have erupted significant volumes of peralkaline silica-undersaturated lavas and tuffs (trachyte, nepheline trachyte and phonolite). The eruptive products of Suswa can be clearly divided into two series, which correspond closely to the volcano's eruptive history. The earlier series (C1) includes lavas and tuffs that built the initial shield volcano (pre-caldera, unit S1) and erupted during the first caldera collapse (syn-caldera, units S2–S5); these rocks are dominated by peralkaline, silica-saturated to mildly undersaturated trachyte. The later series (C2) includes lavas and tuffs that erupted within the caldera structure following the initial collapse (post-caldera, units S6–S7) and during the creation of a second smaller, nested caldera and central “island block” (ring trench group, RTG, unit S8); these rocks are dominated by peralkaline phonolite. In this study, we combine mineralogical evidence with the results of major-element, traceelement, and thermodynamic modelling to propose a complex model for the origin of the Suswa volcano. From these results we conclude that C1 is the result of protracted fractional crystallization of a fairly “dry” alkali basalt (b1 wt.% H2O) under relatively high pressure (400 MPa) and low oxygen fugacity (FMQ to FMQ-1). Although C1 appears to be primarily the result of closed system processes, a variety of open system processes are responsible for C2. We propose that crystallization of C1 trachyte resulted in the formation of a syenitic residue, which was assimilated (Ma/Mc=0.1) during a later stage of recharge and differentiation of alkali basalt to produce post-caldera ne-trachyte. Post-caldera (S6-7) phonolites were in turn the result of fractional crystallization of this ne-trachyte. RTG phonolites, however, are the result of feldspar resorption prompted perhaps by magma recharge as evidenced by reverse zoning in alkali feldspar and linear compatible trace element patterns.

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