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Olivine fractionation equations for basaltic and ultrabasic liquids

An Erratum to this article was published on 18 January 1979


Exact equations are derived for fractionation curves of basaltic and ultrabasic liquids. The ideal fractionation equation has the form y = axK while equilibrium crystallisation has the form (1/y) = Km1(1/x) + b1 . (1 – K), and batch fractionation, y = Km2 + b2 · (1 – K). A ratio transformation as in Pearce diagrams allows natural data to be analysed to determine if a constant distribution coefficient fits the data: K may also be determined directly. Published data for a series of liquids fractionated from a lunar picrite parent have been analysed using the equilibrium equation. The average K value is K = 0.323 with a linear correlation coefficient, R = 0.996. The reported olivine analyses yield a K = 0.321 for the same set of experiments. Using the ideal fractionation equation, the liquid line of descent can be calculated and constraints placed on the primitive liquids which produced a given mafic rock by olivine fractionation.

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Pearce, T. Olivine fractionation equations for basaltic and ultrabasic liquids. Nature 276, 771–774 (1978).

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