Three differentiation stages of a single magma at Piton de la Fournaise volcano (Reunion hot spot)

Vincent Famin, Benoît Welsch, Satoshi Okumura, Patrick Bachèlery, Satoru Nakashima

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51 Citations (Scopus)


We present major element and volatile concentration analyses in melt and gas inclusions from two recent picrite eruptions (February 2005 and December 2005) at Piton de la Fournaise volcano (La Reunion Island, Indian Ocean). Combined with literature data, our new data show that the large variability of major element compositions in Piton de la Fournaise lavas may be explained by three depth-dependent differentiation stages of a single transitional parental magma (9-11 wt% MgO; 0.5-0.8 wt% K2O, and 10-12 wt% CaO). The deepest differentiation (>7.5 km) is controlled by the fractional crystallization of clinopyroxene + plagioclase and yields gabbros and basalts enriched in K and depleted in Ca relative to the parental magma. In a shallower storage zone (<2.5 km), differentiation of the transitional parental magma is dominated by the fractionation/accumulation of Fo83-85 olivine phenocrysts, yielding Mg-poor basalts at the top of the reservoir and picrites at the base. In cooling dykes and subsurface pockets (<0.6 km), Mgpoor basalts may themselves evolve into more differentiated melts by clinopyroxene + plagioclase fractionation. The incorporation of dunitic xenocrysts or other xenoliths is not necessary to explain the major element chemical diversity of the volcano. The same superposition of differentiation mechanisms may occur at similar depths in other shield volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberQ01007
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Jan


  • Magmatic differentiation
  • Major element
  • Melt inclusion
  • Ocean island basalt
  • Olivine
  • Reunion hot spot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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