Formation of rapakivi feldspar in the Deer Isle Granite Complex, coastal Maine: in situ lead isotope and trace-element analysis

  • William Desmond O’Brien
  • Michael J. DoraisEmail author
  • Eric H. Christiansen
  • David Gibson
Original Paper


Rapakivi and alkali feldspar phenocrysts from the Devonian Deer Isle Granite Complex, Maine were investigated to see if magma mixing or isothermal decompression was responsible for their formation. Pb-isotope and trace-element analyses of alkali feldspar ovoids and their plagioclase inclusions were obtained by LA-ICP-MS to determine the characteristics of the initial magma; these were compared with the plagioclase mantles. Rapakivi grains show a decrease in Pb-isotopic values and an increase in Ba, La, and Ce concentrations from the ovoids and inclusions to the innermost plagioclase mantles adjacent to the ovoids. These variations, along with CL imagery of quartz phenocrysts, indicate an open system with compositional changes in the magma chamber occurring during rapakivi feldspar growth. Repeated episodes of magma mixing/replenishment by Ba and LREE enriched magmas with lower Pb-isotopic ratios (along with hybridized variations with the host magma) created localized dissolution of alkali feldspar and quartz. Alkali feldspar phenocrysts proximal to these zones of thermal perturbation were first resorbed and then mantled by plagioclase that records the more primitive signature of the more mafic melt. Pb-isotopic values and Ba, La, and Ce concentrations trend back to the initial magma composition at the mantle rims as the effects of the mixing event dissipated. For grains that were somewhat more distal to these zones of mixing, resorption of the alkali feldspar crystals did not occur, yet the fresh supply of Ba resulted in Ba-rich alkali feldspar mantles over Ba-poor alkali feldspar cores. Other alkali feldspar crystals were too far from the site of mixing; hence, they lack any evidence of open system crystallization. As crystallization of the chamber continued along solidification fronts, batches of cooler crystal-rich magmas settled en masse to the floor. Disaggregation of these batches during settling, and subsequent accumulation on the reservoir floor, brought grains with disparate crystallization histories together. Filter pressing of the cumulate pile flushed highly evolved melts/fluids out from interstitial pores to the high silica, upper portions of the chamber. The crystallization, transportation, and juxtaposition of disparate types of feldspar phenocrysts suggest that a relatively large and active magma chamber, periodically recharged by localized batches of melt, must have existed. In this case, it is clear that rapakivi mantled feldspars are the result of magma mixing; such interpretations may apply to many other occurrences as well.


Deer Isle Granite Rapakivi feldspar Magma mixing 



We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of Adam Kent, Richard Bradshaw, and Matt Loewen with the trace element and isotopic analyses at Oregon State University. We are also grateful for the helpful reviews by two anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by the College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Brigham Young University.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 208 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (PDF 108 kb)
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Supplementary material 3 (PDF 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • William Desmond O’Brien
    • 1
  • Michael J. Dorais
    • 1
    Email author
  • Eric H. Christiansen
    • 1
  • David Gibson
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesBrigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyUniversity of Maine FarmingtonFarmingtonUSA

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