Stable Chromium Isotope Fractionation During Magmatic Differentiation: Insights From Hawaiian Basalts and Implications for Planetary Redox Conditions

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Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta

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The stable isotope compositions of chromium (Cr) are fractionated during magmatic differentiation of lunar mare basalts, which might be attributed to redox-related mineral crystallization. It has yet to be demonstrated whether magmatic differentiation fractionates Cr isotope composition of terrestrial samples. Here, we present high-precision stable Cr isotope measurements, reported as δ53Cr relative to NIST SRM 979, of well-characterized Hawaiian tholeiitic basalts from Koolau, Mauna Kea and Kilauea. The studied Makapuu-stage Koolau lavas have MgO ranging from 6.58 to 21.54 wt.%, and they have homogeneous δ53Cr ranging from −0.21‰ to −0.17‰. Similarly, studied Mauna Kea lavas have MgO ranging from 9.11 to 17.90 wt.%, and they also have homogeneous δ53Cr ranging from −0.17‰ to −0.13‰. Some Makapuu-stage Koolau and Mauna Kea lavas experienced subaerial or submarine alteration. The homogenous δ53Cr within each sample suites implies that the post-magmatic alterations have not significantly changed the Cr isotope compositions of these samples. Conversely, nine Kilauea Iki basalts have MgO ranging from 7.77 to 26.87 wt.% reflecting varying degrees of magmatic differentiation, and they show resolvable Cr isotope variations with δ53Cr ranging from −0.18‰ to 0.00‰. The δ53Cr values of the Kilauea Iki samples are positively correlated with indicators of magmatic differentiation such as Cr and MgO contents, and Mg# values. The most evolved samples have the lightest isotope compositions, whereas the olivine-spinel cumulates display complementary heavy isotope compositions. This fractionation is most likely generated by the crystallization and accumulation of spinel, which is dominated by Cr3+ and, hence, enriched in heavier Cr isotopes relative to the residual melt. At a given MgO content, Kilauea and Mauna Kea lavas, both Kea-trend volcanoes, have higher δ53Cr than Makapuu-stage Koolau lavas, a Loa-trend volcano. This difference might reflect recycling of altered oceanic crusts or redox differences of their magmatic sources, with the mantle source of Makapuu-stage lavas being more reducing. To understand the different Cr isotope fractionation behaviors of terrestrial and extraterrestrial basalts, we present a quantitative model that relates the Cr isotope compositions of basalts from the Earth, the Moon and Vesta, to the crystallization assemblage, the degree of fractional crystallization, and the Cr2+/ΣCr ratios of minerals and melts, which are related to the oxygen fugacity during differentiation. The primitive Hawaiian basaltic magma for Kilauea Iki and Mauna Kea lavas is estimated to have δ53Cr of −0.15‰, which is close to the average value of the BSE (−0.14‰ to −0.12‰). We further speculate that the initial lunar mantle is relatively homogeneous with BSE-like isotope composition (−0.16‰ to −0.09‰). The observed low δ53Cr in lunar mafic rocks is the result of redox-dominated fractional crystallization and accumulation processes of lunar mafic magmas. These magmas might be derived from variable degrees of partial melting of the primitive lunar mantle. Combined with previous results on the variations in Cr valences and contents in silicate melts and minerals related to oxygen fugacity, Cr concentration and isotope composition can serve as a useful oxybarometer for understanding the redox conditions of planetary differentiation and magmatic evolution.


Cr isotope fractionation; Hawaiian basalts; Redox states; Magmatic differentiation; Planetary differentiation





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