Anatectic melt volumes in the thermal aureole of the Etive Complex, Scotland: The roles of fluid-present and fluid-absent melting

G. T R Droop, K. H. Brodie

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Pelitic hornfelses within the inner thermal aureole of the Etive igneous complex underwent limited partial melting, generating agmatic micro-stromatic migmatites. In this study, observed volume proportions of vein leucosomes in the migmatites are compared with modelled melt volumes in an attempt to constrain the controls on melting processes. Petrogenetic modelling in the MnNCKFMASHT system was performed on the compositions of 15 analysed Etive pelite samples using THERMOCALC. Melt modes were calculated at 2.2kbar (the estimated pressure in the southern Etive aureole) from solidus temperatures to 800°C for both fluid-absent and fluid-present conditions. Volume changes accompanying fluid-absent melting at 2.2kbar were also calculated. P-T pseudosections reproduce the zonal sequence of the southern Etive aureole fairly well. The modelled solidus temperatures of silica-rich pelitic compositions are close to 680°C at 2.2kbar and, in the absence of free fluid, melt modes in such compositions rise to between 12 and 29% at 800°C, half of which is typically produced over the narrow reaction interval in which orthopyroxene first appears. Silica-poor compositions have solidus temperatures of up to ~770°C and yield 60%; by 800°C they range from 61 to 88% and from 29 to 74% in silica-rich and silica-poor compositions, respectively. Calculated volume changes for fluid-absent melting are positive for all modelled compositions and reach 4.5% in some silica-rich compositions by 800°C. Orthopyroxene formation is accompanied by a volume increase of up to 1.48% over a temperature increase of as little as 2.7°C, supporting the arguments for melt-induced 'hydrofracturing' as a viable melt-escape mechanism in low-P metamorphism. Mineral assemblages in the innermost aureole support previous conclusions that partial melting took place predominantly under fluid-absent conditions. However, vein leucosome proportions, estimated by image analysis, do not show the expected correlation with grade, and are locally greatly in excess of melt modes predicted by fluid-absent models, particularly close to the melt-in isograd. Melting of interlayered psammites, addition of H 2O from interlayered melt-free rocks, and metastable persistence of muscovite are ruled out as major causes of the excess melt anomaly. The most likely cause, we believe, is that local variations existed in the amount of fluid available at the onset of melting, promoted by focussing of fluid released by dehydration in the middle and outer aureole; however, some redistribution of melt by compaction-driven flow through the vein channel network cannot be ruled out. The formation of melt-filled fractures in the inner Etive aureole was assisted by stresses that caused extension at high angles to the igneous contact. The fractures were probably caused either by transient pressure reduction in the diorite magma chamber associated with a second phase of intrusion, or by sub-solidus thermal contraction in the diorite pluton during the early stages of inner-aureole cooling. © 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)843-864
    Number of pages21
    JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012


    • Melt fertility
    • Pelitic migmatites
    • Pseudosections
    • Vein leucosomes
    • Volume expansion


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