Looking through the Zircon Kaleidoscope: Durations, Rates, and Fluxes in Silicic Magmatic System

Wednesday, 17 December 2014: 11:50 AM
Urs Schaltegger and Joern-frederik Wotzlaw, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
The crystallization rate of zircon in a cooling magma depends on the cooling rate through the saturation interval in addition to compositional and kinetic factors. Repeated influx of hot magma over 10-20 ka leads to short-amplitude temperature oscillations, which are recorded by resorption/crystallization cycles of zircon. Plotting the number of dated zircons versus their high-precision U-Pb date results in curves that qualitatively relate to the evolution of magma temperature over time [1], [2].

The trace elemental, O and Hf isotopic composition of zircon gives indications about the degree of magma homogenization and thermal evolution. Zircons from systems with small volumes and magma fluxes record non-systematic chemical and Hf isotopic heterogeneity, suggesting crystallization in non-homogenized ephemeral magma batches. Such systems typically lead to small, mid-upper crustal plutons [3].

Zircons from large-volume crystal-poor rhyolites record initial heterogeneities and rapid amalgamation of smaller magma batches over 10 ka [4], while zircons from monotonous intermediates record magma evolution over several 100 ka with coherent fractionation trends suggesting homogenization and a coherent thermal evolution [2]. In both cases, volumes and flux rates were sufficient to produce large volumes of eruptible magma on very contrasting time scales.

Zircon is therefore recording cyclic crystallization-rejuvenation processes during temperature fluctuations in intermediate to upper crustal magma reservoirs but may not relate to the physical pluton emplacement or eruption. We can quantify volumes, rates of magma influx, rates of cooling and crystallization, and the degree of convective homogenization from zircon data, and infer reservoir assembly and eruption trigger mechanisms.

These parameters largely control the evolution of long-lived, low-flux silicic magmatic system typical for mid-to-upper crustal plutons, monotonous intermediates are characterized by intermediate durations and fluxes while short-lived, high-flux systems preferentially produce crystal-poor rhyolites.

References: [1] Caricchi et al. (2014) Nature 511, 457-461; [2] Wotzlaw et al. (2013) Geology 41, 867-870; [3] Broderick (2013) PhD thesis, Univ. of Geneva; [3] Wotzlaw et al. (2014) Geology, doi:10.1130/G35979.1