Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Gautam Sen

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Stephen P. Reidel

Third Advisor's Name

Andrew Macfarlane

Fourth Advisor's Name

Rosemary Hickey-Vargas

Fifth Advisor's Name

Stephen Haggerty

Sixth Advisor's Name

Grenville Draper

Date of Defense



Lavas belonging to the Grande Ronde Formation (GRB) constitute about 63% of the Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG), a flood basalt province in the NW United States. A puzzling feature is the lack of phenocrysts (< 5%) in these chemically evolved lavas. Based mainly on this observation it has been hypothesized that GRB lavas were nearly primary melts generated by large-scale melting of eclogite. Another recent hypothesis holds that GRB magmas were extremely hydrous and rose rapidly from the mantle such that the dissolved water kept the magmas close to their liquidi. I present new textural and chemical evidence to show that GRB lavas were neither primary nor hydrous melts but were derived from other melts via efficient fractional crystallization and mixing in shallow intrusive systems. Texture and chemical features further suggest that the melt mixing process may have been exothermic, which forced variable melting of some of the existing phenocrysts.

Finally, reported here are the results of efforts to simulate the higher pressure histories of GRB using COMAGMAT and MELTS softwares. The intent was to evaluate (1) whether such melts could be derived from primary melts formed by partial melting of a peridotite source as an alternative to the eclogite model, or if bulk melting of eclogite is required; and (2) at what pressure such primary melts could have been in equilibrium with the mantle. I carried out both forward and inverse modeling. The best fit forward model indicates that most primitive parent melts related to GRB could have been multiply saturated at ~1.5-2.0 GPa. I interpret this result to indicate that the parental melts last equilibrated with a peridotitic mantle at 1.5-2.0 GPa and such partial melts rose to ~0.2 GPa where they underwent efficient mixing and fractionation before erupting. These models suggest that the source rock was not eclogitic but a fertile spinel lherzolite, and that the melts had ~0.5% water.



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