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The Microstructural Record of Convection in the Little Minch Sill Complex, Scotland

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Nicoli, G 
Rust, A 
Neufeld, J 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title> jats:pDetailed microstructural analysis of three basaltic sills of the Little Minch Sill Complex demonstrates that convection leaves a detectable signature in fully solidified bodies. The presence of dense clusters of equant grains of olivine and clinopyroxene in the central parts of sills can only be accounted for if they formed and were enlarged while suspended in convecting magma, with delayed settling to the sill floor. An associated stratigraphic invariance of plagioclase grain shape is consistent with growth while suspended in convecting magma. These microstructural indicators demonstrate that convection during solidification was vigorous and long-lived in the 135-m-thick picrodolerite-crinanite unit (PCU) of the composite Shiant Isles Main sill and vigorous and likely short-lived in the PCU of the composite Creagan Iar sill. In contrast, convection in the Meall Tuath sill was weak and short-lived: plagioclase grain shape in this sill varies with stratigraphic height, indicative of primarily in situ nucleation and growth at the magma-mush interface, while olivine and clinopyroxene were kept suspended in the overlying convecting magma. The magma in all three sills fractionated during solidification, permitting convection driven by the instability of an upper thermal boundary layer. The comparative vigour and longevity of convection in the Shiant Isles Main sill and the Creagan Iar sill was due to their emplacement above an earlier, still-hot, intrusion, resulting in highly asymmetric cooling.</jats:p>



37 Earth Sciences, 3703 Geochemistry, 3705 Geology, 3706 Geophysics

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Journal of Petrology

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Oxford University Press (OUP)
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/N009894/1)
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