On the Electrolysis of Molten Basalt

M. J. Oppenheim
Department of Geology, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Summary: The effects to be expected from the interaction of possible electric currents at depth with bodies of basaltic magma have been investigated experimentally. Trough-shaped molten specimens were produced in the surface of basalt blocks by heating from above ; the melts were electrolysed and the products analysed chemically.

Si, Al, Ti, P, Fe2+, and probably Fe3+ are concentrated towards the anode, apparently in the form of drifting lattice remnants; oxygen gas is liberated. Na, K, Ca, Mn, and Mg ions concentrate towards the cathode.

Relatively to basalt, the cathodic product is an alkaline and femic rock with normative nepheline and a more acid plagioclase. The anodic rock is distinctly calc-alkaline and salic, with normative quartz and a plagioclase that is more basic. The precise ‘rock-type’ developed depends on the amount of electricity passed, but the trends are distinct. In that increasing basicity and alkalinity (cathodic rocks) are accompanied by both increasing Na/K and Mg/(Fe2+ + Fe3+) ratios (which ratios decrease with decreasing basicity and alkalinity) the electrolytic series developed from a basalt magma appears to have few counterparts among natural rocks.

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1968 v. 36; no. 284; p. 1104-1122; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1968.036.284.07
© 1968, The Mineralogical Society
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