Partitioning of elements between majorite garnet and ultrabasic melt has been studied at 16 GPa and 1950° C. Ca, Ti, La, Sm, Gd, Zr, Hf, Fe, Ni, Mn, K, and Na are enriched in the melt, whereas Al, Cr, V, Sc and Yb are concentrated in majorite garnet. Thus, majorite garnet fractionation by partial melting could produce chemical heterogeneities in these elements deviating from chondritic abundance. Using the partitioning behaviour of elements between majorite garnet and ultrabasic melt, the petrogenesis of komatiite is discussed. A simple model to explain the chemical varieties of komatiites is as follows. Aluminadepleted komatiite was generated by partial melting of the primitive mantle at 200-650 km depth, and alumina-enriched komatiite is the product of remelting of the residual solid at the same depths, whereas alumina-undepleted komatiite was formed by partial melting of the primitive upper mantle at depths shallower than 200 km. We suggest the possibility of large-scale chemical layering or heterogeneity in the early Archean upper mantle as an alternative model for komatiite genesis; shallower mantle depleted in majorite garnet and the underlying mantle enriched in majorite garnet. Alumina-depleted and alumina-enriched komatiites in the early Archean might be generated by a high degree of partial melting of the layered mantle. Such chemical layering could have been homogenized by the late Archean. This explains the observations that alumina-depleted and alumina-enriched komatiites were generally formed in the early Archean but alumina-undepleted komatiite was erupted in the late Archean.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology