Metamorphism, geochemistry and origin of magnesian volcanic rocks, Klamath Mountains, California


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14 Scopus citations


Metabasaltic rocks in the Klamath Mountains of California with ‘komatiitic’ major element concentrations were investigated in order to elucidate the origin of the magnesian signature. Trace‐element concentrations preserve relict igneous trends and suggest that the rocks are not komatitic basalts, but immature arc rocks and within‐plate alkalic lavas. Correlation of ‘excess’ MgO with the volume per cent hornblende (±clinopyroxene) suggests that the presence of cumulus phases contributes to the MgO‐rich compositions. Early submarine alteration produced regional δ18O values of +10±1.5%° and shifts in Al2O3, Na2O, and K2O concentrations. Regional metamorphic grade in the study area varies from biotite‐zone greenschist facies (350–550°C, c. 3 kbar) southward to prehnite–actinolite facies (200–400°C, ≤3 kbar), but little isotopic or elemental change occurred during the regional recrystallization. The greenschist facies assemblage is actinolitic hornblende + phengite + epidote + sodic plagioclase + microcline + chlorite + titanite + hematite + quartz in Ti‐poor metabasaltic rocks; in addition to these phases biotite is present in Ti‐rich analogues. Lower grade greenstones contain prehnite and more nearly stoichiometric actinolite. The moderate to low pressures of regional metamorphism are compatible with P–T conditions in a magmatic arc. Later contact metamorphism at 2–2.9±0.5 kbar and at peak temperatures approaching 600° C around the English Peak and Russian Peak granodiorites produced 3–4–km‐wide aureoles typified by gradual, systematic increases in the pargasite content of amphibole, muscovite content of potassic white mica, and anorthite content of plagioclase compositions. Metasomatism during contact metamorphism produced further increases in bulk‐rock δ18OSMOW of as much as +6%°. Thus, the unusually MgO‐rich nature of the Sawyers Bar rocks may be attributed at least partly to metasomatism and the presence of magnesian cumulus phases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-69
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1992


  • Klamath Mountains
  • komatiitic basalt
  • metasomatism
  • oxygen isotopes.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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