Magma flow within the Tavares pluton, Northeastern Brazil: Compositional and thermal convection

R. F. Weinberg, A. N. Sial, R. R. Pessoa

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Crystallization coupled with gravity removal of depleted interstitial melt has long been recognized as a mechanism of magma differentiation. Similarly, heat released by synplutonic basaltic magma intrusions has long been recognized as capable of driving convection in granite chambers. Direct evidence of these processes has seldom been described in granites. In the Tavares pluton, we mapped a number of melt extraction structures from pores of a crystal-liquid mush (an effectively solid magma where crystals form an interconnected skeleton) and a variety of flow structures such as (1) meter-scale tear-or mushroom-shapped blobs representing within-chamber diapirs; (2) meter-scale ellipsoids representing frozen thermal plumes of granite, driven by heat released from disrupted diorite intrusions; and (3) ladder dikes and snail structures representing cross sections of several superposed cylindrical magma channels (possibly feeders of diapirs and plume heads). A fundamental feature of the structures in the Tavares pluton is that they are well delineated by mafic schlieren developed at active channel margins. We postulate a new model for the origin of marginal schlieren, which combines shear flow sorting and melt escape from the flowing magma into an effectively solid surrounding mush. Extraction structures (representing melt extraction from mush pores into melt pockets) and schlieren (representing regions where melt escaped into surrounding mush pores) are both favored by magmas that form an interconnected solid framework at low crystal fractions (5̃0%), because these mushes are ductile and permeable. Favorable magmas are those with a high wetting angle between melt and solid (6̃0°) and a propitious crystal size and shape distribution. We propose a model of compositional and thermal convection that accounts for all described structures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-520
Number of pages13
JournalBulletin of the Geological Society of America
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Fluid dynamics
  • Granite
  • Magma chambers
  • Magmatic
  • Structures

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