Quantitative field constraints on the dynamics of silicic magma chamber rejuvenation and overturn

Amelia Bain, Mark Jellinek, Robert Wiebe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The catastrophic eruption of large-volume, crystal-rich silicic magmas is often proposed to be a consequence of reheating, melting and overturn of partially molten, buoyant silicic material following repeated injection of dense, hot mafic magma. To test this “rejuvenation hypothesis”, we analyze at high spatial resolution 33 examples of deformed interfaces between intrusive mafic and silicic layers in two plutons of the Coastal Maine Magmatic Province, USA. These deformed interfaces are thought to record the buoyant overturn of silicic crystal mush layers, apparently in response to the injection and cooling of hot, dense mafic magmas. We use spectral analysis and scaling theory along with petrologic and textural data to identify, characterize, and understand periodic deformations from the scale of individual crystals (≈1 cm) to the thicknesses of mafic and silicic layers. Deformations at the largest scale lengths (>100 m) are at wavelengths comparable to, or greater than, silicic layer thicknesses and support a conjecture that mafic recharge can cause large-scale Rayleigh–Taylor-type overturning of silicic mushy layers. By contrast, the smallest scales of individual crystals probably record effects related to production and buoyancy-driven rise of melt from the tops of silicic mushes in contact with overlying hot basalt, whereas intermediate scales are explained by compaction. Our results constrain the evolution of a thermal rejuvenation event and potentially identify a condition for a large-scale overturn of the magma chamber that may lead to eruption. This work provides the first quantitative field-based constraints on some of the key physical processes inherent to the rejuvenation hypothesis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275
Number of pages1294
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2013


  • Rejuvenation
  • Mafic replenishment
  • Silicic magma chamber
  • Mafic-silicic layered intrusion
  • Explosive eruption
  • Magma mixing


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