Origin of silicic magmas along the Central American volcanic front: Genetic relationship to mafic melts

Document Type


Publication Date



Silicic pyroclastic flows and related deposits are abundant along the Central American volcanic front. These silicic magmas erupted through both the non-continental Chorotega block to the southeast and the Paleozoic continental Chortis block to the northwest. The along-arc variations of the silicic deposits with respect to diagnostic trace element ratios (Ba/La, U/Th, Ce/Pb), oxygen isotopes, Nd and Sr isotope ratios mimic the along-arc variation in the basaltic and andesitic lavas. This variation in the lavas has been interpreted to indicate relative contributions from the slab and asthenosphere to the basaltic magmas [Carr, M.J., Feigenson, M.D., Bennett, E.A., 1990. Incompatible element and isotopic evidence for tectonic control of source mixing and melt extraction along the Central American arc. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 105, 369–380.; Patino, L.C., Carr, M.J. and Feigenson, M.D., 2000. Local and regional variations in Central American arc lavas controlled by variations in subducted sediment input. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 138 (3), 265–283.]. With respect to along-arc trends in basaltic lavas the largest contribution of slab fluids is in Nicaragua and the smallest input from the slab is in central Costa Rica — similar trends are observed in the silicic pyroclastic deposits. Data from melting experiments of primitive basalts and basaltic andesites demonstrate that it is difficult to produce high K2O/Na2O silicic magmas by fractional crystallization or partial melting of low-K2O/Na2O sources. However fractional crystallization or partial melting of medium- to high-K basalts can produce these silicic magmas. We interpret that the high-silica magmas associated Central America volcanic front are partial melts of penecontemporaneous, mantle-derived, evolved magmas that have ponded and crystallized in the mid-crust — or are melts extracted from these nearly completely crystallized magmas.

Publisher's Statement

© 2006 Elsevier B.V. Publisher's version of record: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2006.03.002

Publication Title

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research