Marine Science Faculty Publications


Petrology of Submarine Lavas from Kilauea's Puna Ridge, Hawaii

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We have studied 30 quenched tholeiitic lava flows recovered by 20 dredge hauls and one submersible dive along Puna Ridge, the submarine part of the East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii Glass grains from numerous additional flows were recovered in turbidite sands cored in the Hawaiian Trough. These quenched lavas document variable primary magma compositions; olivine and multiphase crystallization and fractionation; degassing; wall-rock stoping and assimilation; mixing in the crustal reservoir and the rift zone; entrainment of olivine xenocrysts from a hot, ductile, olivine cumulate body; and disruption of gabbro wallrocks in the rift zone.

Glass grains in turbidite sands contain up to 15⋅0wt% MgO, in contrast to < 7⋅0wt% MgO for the sampled glass rinds on lavas. The most forsteritic olivine phenocryst (F090·7) is in equilibrium with primary Kilauea liquid containing an average 16⋅5 wt% MgO, but ranging from 13⋅4 to 18⋅4%. Lavas and glass grains have more restricted P2O5/K2O and TiO2/K2O than glass inclusions in olivine, because more diverse liquids trapped as glass inclusions are mixed and homogenized before eruption. Variable trace element compositions in glass grains and whole rocks indicate that the primary liquids form by partial melting of mantle sources retaining clinopyroxene and garnet.

Orthopyroxene xenocrysts formed at moderate pressures provide evidence for a sub-crustal staging zone. Chromite and olivine crystallize in the crustal magma reservoir as the liquid cools from an average 1346°C to ∼1170°C. Low viscosities of the primary liquids (0·4 Pas) facilitate olivine settling, and the crystallized olivine forms an olivine cumulate body at the base of the reservoir. Olivine is deformed as the hot ductile dunite body flows down and away from the summit. This flow drives instability of the Hilina landslide on Kilauea. Dikes intrude the dunite, and magma flowing through the dikes disaggregates and entrains olivine xenocrysts in Puna Ridge magmas.

Primary liquids pond at or near the base of Kilauea's crustal reservoir because they are denser than more fractionated liquids that occupy the upper parts of the reservoir. The sulfur and water contents of glass rinds indicate that fractionated liquids near the top of the reservoir degas at low pressure, a process that increases their density and causes them to sink to levels where they mix with resident undegassed, near-primary liquid. The fractionated liquids near the top of the magma reservoir acquire excess Cl, owing to assimilation of hydrothermally altered roofrocks.

Magma flowing into the rift zone encounters and mixes with low-temperature, multiphase-fractionated melt. The mixed magmas typically contain rare orthopyroxene, plagioclase as sodic as andesine, olivine as fayalitic as F075 and Fe-rich augite derived from the fractionated magma. Magma flowing through dikes also dislodged fragments of gabbroic wallrocks that occur as xenoliths.

The interrelations in the Kilauean submarine lavas between host glass and glass inclusion compositions, volatile contents and mineral chemistry reveal an extraordinarily complex sequence of petrogenetic processes and events that are difficult or impossible to determine in subaerial Kilauea lavas because of crystallization, reequilibration and degassing during or after their eruption.

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Journal of Petrology, v. 36, issue 2, p. 299-349