Complex and protracted crystallization histories over geologic timescales are recorded in accessory minerals (e.g., zircon, allanite). Although magmatic crystallization was traditionally assumed to occur essentially instantaneously for the purposes of interpreting mineral geochronometers with low absolute time resolution for ancient samples, it emerged relatively recently that magmatic crystallization can occur over extended durations. This discovery arose from applying high-spatial-resolution accessory mineral dating techniques for uranium series isotopes to young volcanic and cognate plutonic rocks. The emerging pattern from these studies is that individual crystals and crystal populations record crystallization episodes lasting from <1,000 to many hundreds of thousands of years. Accessory mineral dating of volcanic rocks and cognate plutonic xenoliths opens new research avenues for crystal age fingerprinting that correlates pyroclastic deposits, lavas, and plutonic rocks by using characteristic age distributions. It also provides direct observations on magmatic accumulation and residence times, and the preeruptive configuration of subterraneous magma bodies and intrusive complexes with implications for the forecasting of volcanic eruptions. Awareness of potentially protracted crystallization in igneous rocks should guide the interpretation of accessory mineral ages.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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