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Keywords:

  • amphibole fractionation;
  • Panamanian arc;
  • hydrous magmas;
  • cumulate;
  • continental crust;
  • garnet fractionation

Linking shallow and deep crustal processes at volcanic arcs is an important component in evaluating the growth and evolution of the continental crust. Commonly, deep crustal processes and the nature of subarc lithosphere are studied long after the volcanism has ceased in obducted arc terranes. In active arcs, studies of deep crustal processes focus on cumulates derived from middle-lower crustal levels. Although uncommon in the erupted magmas, these cumulates are required by crustal differentiation models of arc magmatism. Quaternary magmas at Baru volcano in Panama contain ubiquitous amphibole-bearing cumulates that provide an opportunity to probe the magma plumbing system of an active arc volcano. We have determined that these cumulates are related to their host magmas by crystal fractionation processes. Pressure and temperature estimates for amphiboles within these cumulates and the host rock are consistent with sampling of mush/magma zones from throughout the arc crust. These mush zones would be localized in deep hot crustal zones where magmatic differentiation of water-saturated arc magmas takes place by crystallization of amphibole-rich cumulates. The identification of middle-lower crustal cumulates is not exclusive to Baru volcano; similar cumulates are common throughout the Panamanian arc and are consistent with a widespread amphibole-rich layer present within the arc crust of Panama. Our results highlight the importance of amphibole fractionation in the differentiation sequence of island arcs effectively driving the residual magma to the average andesitic composition of the continental crust.