Temperature and co-crystallization effects on Zr isotopes

Heather M. Kirkpatrick, T. Mark Harrison, Mauricio Ibañez-Mejia, François L.H. Tissot, Scott A. MacLennan, Elizabeth A. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


We undertook Zr isotope measurements on zircon, titanite, biotite, amphibole, and whole rocks from the La Posta pluton (Peninsular Ranges, southern California) together with trace element analyses and U-Pb age measurements to understand the controls on Zr isotope fractionation in igneous rocks, including temperature, crystallization sequence, and kinetic effects. We find large (>0.6‰) Zr isotope fractionations (expressed as δ94/90Zr) between titanite and zircon forming at approximately the same temperature. Using equilibrium fractionation factors calculated from ionic and ab initio models, we infer the controls on Zr isotope evolution to include the relative order in which phases appear on the liquidus, with titanite fractionation resulting in isotopically lighter melt and zircon fractionation resulting in isotopically heavier melt. While these models of Zr fractionation can explain δ94/90Zr variations in zircon of up to ∼1.5‰, crystallization order, temperature and presence of co-crystallizing phases do not explain all aspects of the intracrystalline Zr isotopic distribution in zircons in the La Posta pluton or the large range of Zr isotopic values among zircons (>2‰). Without additional constraints, such as knowledge of co-crystallizing phases and a better understand of the true causes of Zr isotope fractionation, Zr isotopes in zircon remains an ambiguous proxy of magmatic evolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-85
Number of pages17
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
StatePublished - Jul 1 2023


  • Peninsular ranges batholith
  • SIMS
  • Zircon
  • Zr stable isotopes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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