Petrologic diversity in Mount St. Helens dacites during the last 4,000 years: implications for magma mixing

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Mount St. Helens has explosively erupted dacitic magma discontinuously over the last 40,000 years, and detailed stratigraphic data are available for the past 4,000 years. During this last time period the major-element composition of the dacites has ranged from mafic (62-64 wt% SiO2) to felsic (65-67 wt% SiO2), temperature has varied by about 150°C (770°-920°C), and crystallinity has ranged between 20% and 55%. Water content of these dacites has also fluctuated greatly. Although the source for the dacitic magmas is probably partial melting of lower crustal rocks, there is strong physical evidence, such as banded pumices, thermal heterogeneities in single pumices, phenocryst disequilibrium, contrasts between compositions of glass inclusions and host matrix glass, and amphibole reaction rims, that suggests that magma mixing has been prominent in the dacitic reservoir. Indeed, we suggest that the variations in major- and trace-element abundances in Mount St. Helens dacites indicate that magma mixing between felsic dacite and mafic magma has controlled the petrologic diversity of the dacitic magmas. Magma mixing has also controlled the composition of andesites erupted at Mount St. Helens, and thus it appears that the continuum of magmatic composition erupted at the volcano is controlled by mixing between felsic dacite, or possibly rhyodacite, and basalt. The flux of the felsic endmember to the reservior appears to have been relatively constant, whereas the flux of basalt may have increased in the past 4,000 years, as suggested by the apparently increased abundance of mafic dacite and andesite erupted in this period. © 1995 Springer-Verlag.

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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology