Volatiles and trace elements content in melt inclusions from the zoned Green Tuff ignimbrite (Pantelleria, Sicily): petrological inferences

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Pierangelo Romano
John White
Alessandro Ciulla
Ida Di Carlo
Claudia D'Oriano
Patrizia Landi
Silvio Giuseppe Rotolo


The island of Pantelleria is one of the best known localities of bimodal mafic-felsic magmatism (alkali basalt and trachyte-pantellerite). Among the felsic rocks, the coexistence in a single eruption of products of both trachyte and pantellerite compositions is limited to few occurrences, the Green Tuff (GT) ignimbrite being one of these. The GT is compositionally zoned from pantellerite (70.1 wt% SiO2, mol Na+K/Al = 1.86, 1871 ppm Zr) at the base to crystal-rich (>30 vol%) comenditic trachyte (63.4 wt% SiO2, mol Na+K/Al = 1.10, 265 ppm Zr) at the top, although the pantellertic compositions dominate the erupted volume. We present here new data on melt inclusions (MIs) from the pantellerite portions of the GT eruption and, most importantly, from the trachyte member, which have not been studied in-situ by previous work focused on the GT. We document the first occurrence of trachytic melt inclusions in the late-erupted member, whose importance resides in the fact that trachytes were known mostly as crystal-rich lavas or ignimbrites, all variably affected by crystal accumulation. Besides the obvious inferences on the interplay between parental-derivative magmas, this evidence adds also some helpful elements in understanding zoning of silicic and peralkaline (i.e. low-viscosity) magma chambers. Trace elements compositions of MIs reveal that trachyte melts are of two types: (i) a low-Ba, directly descending from basaltic melts by 60-70 % of fractional crystallisation, and (ii) a high-Ba that might be affected by processes of feldspar dissolution and entrainment of the resulting small-scale melts in some MIs. MIs hosted in the deep-seated trachyte body are H2O-poor (≤ 1.2 wt %) with respect to the early erupted (and shallower) pantellerite magma (≤ 4.2 wt %), raising the possibility that either trachyte magma was H2O-undesaturated, or clinopyroxene hosted melt inclusions which suffered consistent H2O loss.

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Romano, P., White, J., Ciulla, A., Di Carlo, I., D’Oriano, C., Landi, P. and Rotolo, S. G. (2019) “Volatiles and trace elements content in melt inclusions from the zoned Green Tuff ignimbrite (Pantelleria, Sicily): petrological inferences”, Annals of Geophysics, 62(1), p. VO09. doi: 10.4401/ag-7671.
Special Issue: Explosive Eruptions and the Mediterranean Civilizations through Prehistory and History