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The most frequent and voluminous eruptive products at Mount St. Helens are dacitic in composition, although a wide variety of magma types (basalt to rhyodacite) is represented. To address the petrogenesis of the dacites, we present major and trace element analyses of samples of pumice clasts and dome or flow lavas erupted during the past ∼40,000 years. The dacites have similar (in some cases even lower) contents of many incompatible elements (e.g., Zr, Hf, REE, U, Be, Ta, Nb) compared with those in associated basalts and andesites, whereas Ba, Rb, K, Cs, and Sr are relatively enriched. The unusual depleted nature of the dacites and generally low bulk distribution coefficients (estimated from glass/whole‐rock pairs) for numerous trace elements preclude an origin of these magmas principally by crystal fractionation of associated mafic magmas. A more plausible model for their origin involves melting of metabasaltic crustal rocks that have been enriched in Ba, Rb, Cs, and Sr by either intercalation of sediments with depleted basalt or selective metasomatic enrichment of the source region. Melting at crustal levels presumably is related to intrusion of mantle‐derived basaltic magmas. Compositional diversity among the erupted dacites can be attributed to spatial or temporal heterogeneity of the magma sources or, in some specific cases, to such processes as crystal fractionation, assimilation, and magma mixing.




American Geophysical Union

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth