Cumulate and cumulative granites and associated rocks

Bruce W. Chappell*, Doone Wyborn

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    37 Citations (Scopus)


    Processes that move crystals relative to melt, that is crystal fractionation, are of major importance in producing variations that are observed within cogenetic suites of granites. In low-temperature granite suites, crystal fractionation initially involves the progressive separation of crystals residual from partial melting from that partial melt. Once separation of those crystals, or restite, has been completed, further fractionation may occur through the separation of crystals that had precipitated from the melt, the process known as fractional crystallization. High-temperature granite magmas are largely or completely molten and elements such as Ca, Mg and Fe, and their associated minor elements, are in that case dissolved in the melt. Such magmas, particularly those that are more potassic and hence contain a higher fraction of low temperature melt, may evolve compositionally through fractional crystallization. Cumulate rocks result, comprising a framework of cumulus minerals with interstitial melt. In this process some of the melt is also displaced to form more felsic rocks. Such cumulate rocks may have distinctive chemical compositions, but that is often not the case. Distinctive features include SiO2 contents near or below 50 % in rocks that are transitional in the field to more felsic granites, very high Cr and Ni, very low K, P, Ba, Rb and Zr, and anomalous abundances of the anorthite components Ca and A1. These rocks may also have positive Eu anomalies. Cumulate rocks do not necessarily have distinctive textures, ar least as such features are understood at this time. Fractional crystallization can also involve the movement of precipitated crystals relative to melt. We refer to rocks as cumulative when formed from the fractions in which the abundance of crystals has increased. The production of cumulative granites typically occurs at more felsic melt compositions than is the case for cumulate granites, and this process may have its greatest significance in the fractional crystallization of the felsic haplogranites. Relative to felsic granites of broadly similar compositions lying on a liquid line of descent, cumulative granites contain more Ca, reflecting the addition from elsewhere of plagioclase crystals with solidus compositions. The abundances of Sr and Ba may be high to very high, and sometimes there are positive Eu anomalies. Cumulative I-type granites may have low abundances of Y and the heavy REE, while the S-type can be very distinctive with anommously high abundances of Th and the heavy REE resulting from the concentrating of monazite. Generally, but not always, those who propose fractional crystallization as a mechanism for producing compositional variation within a suite of granites do not state whether the rocks in that particular case are thought to fie on a liquid line of descent or are cumulates/cumulative, although it is generally presumed that they were melts. Our experiences in eastern Australia have shown that the mechanism of fractional crystallization was quantitatively not as important during granite evolution as many workers would expect. However, there are some excellent examples of that process, most notably the Boggy Plain Supersuite. Overall in eastern Australia, varying degrees of separation of restite is a much more common mode of crystal fractionation, that may also be seen to be the case for some other granite provinces if they are examined with that possibility in mind.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-240
    Number of pages14
    JournalResource Geology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2004


    • Boggy plain supersuite
    • Crystal fractionation
    • Cumulate
    • Cumulative
    • Fractional crystallization
    • Mineralization
    • Zoned pluton


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