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Post-entrainment mineral–melt reactions in spinel peridotite xenoliths from Inver, Donegal, Ireland

  • CLIFF S. J. SHAW (a1) and ALAN D. EDGAR (a1)


Spinel lherzolite and harzburgite xenoliths hosted in an alkali basalt dyke near Inver, Donegal, Ireland show abundant evidence of interaction between xenolith minerals and the host melt. Of particular interest are primary Cr-diopside and spinel with sieve-textured coronas. Coronas on primary Cr-diopside are up to 3 mm wide and are associated with veinlets of devitrified glass. The coronas comprise secondary Cr-diopside with vermicular, interstitial alkali feldspar and chlorite grains up to 100 µm in size. The inclusion-free Cr-diopside cores are Al- and Na-rich whereas the coronas are Al- and Na-depleted and Ti-enriched. Sieve-textured spinels have similar texture to the clinopyroxene grains and are also associated with veinlets of infiltrated glass. However, the interstitial inclusions in the sieve-textured region are chlorite and nepheline. Inclusion-free spinel is part of a chromite–spinel solid solution and is Ti-poor. Spinel in the coronas has a greater chromite and ulvospinel component and falls close to a mixing line with spinel in the host alkali basalt. In addition to the sieve-textured grains, primary olivine in contact with infiltrated glass has Fe-rich rims, and orthopyroxene has broken down to form rims of olivine, clinopyroxene and a K-rich phase similar in composition to alkali-feldspar. Comparison of the compositions of the inclusion-free cores and sieve-textured rims shows that the rims have chemical signatures consistent with partial melting, that is, Al and Na depletion for clinopyroxene and Cr-enrichment for spinel. The textures of the coronas, particularly those around spinel and the reaction margins on orthopyroxene are identical to those produced during dissolution experiments.

We suggest that silicate liquid from the host magma infiltrated the xenoliths during their ascent and since it was not in equilibrium with the xenolith minerals caused reaction. The occurrence of K-bearing interstitial minerals in the sieve-textured grains and reacted orthopyroxenes indicate that the coronas did not form by simple melting since none of the minerals that underwent breakdown are K-bearing. We suggest that the sieve-textured grains formed initially by partial melting and reaction associated with decompression and infiltration of liquid from the host magma. The melts included in the reacted phases were enriched in K by diffusion from the Si-poor infiltrated melt into the more Si-rich melt inclusions in the coronas.


Corresponding author

Now at Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Universität Bayreuth, D-95440 Bayreuth, Germany; e-mail:

Post-entrainment mineral–melt reactions in spinel peridotite xenoliths from Inver, Donegal, Ireland

  • CLIFF S. J. SHAW (a1) and ALAN D. EDGAR (a1)


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