High- and Low-Temperature I-type Granites

B. W. Chappell*, C. J. Bryant, D. Wyborn, A. J.R. White, I. S. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    144 Citations (Scopus)


    I- and S-type granites differ in several distinctive ways, as a consequence of their derivation from contrasting source rocks. The more mafic granites, whose compositions are closest to those of the source rocks, are most readily classihed as I- or S-type. As granites become more felsic, compositions of the two types converge towards those of lowest temperature silicate melts. While discrimination of the two is therefore more difficult for such felsic rocks, that in no way invalidates the twofold subdivision. If felsic granite melts undergo fractional crystallisation, the major element compositions are not affected to any significant extent, but the concentrations of trace elements can vary widely. For some trace elements, fractional crystallisation causes the trace element abundances to diverge, so the I- and S- type granites are again easily separated. Such fractionated S-type granites can be distinguished, for example, by high P and low Th and Ce, relative to their I-type analogues. Our observations in the Lachlan Fold Belt show that there is no genetic basis for subdividing peralummous granites into more mafic and felsic varieties, as has been attempted elsewhere. The subdivision of felsic peraluminous granites into I- and S-types is more appropriate, and mafic peraluminous granites are always S-type. In a given area, associated malic and felsic S-type unites are likely to be closely related in origin, with the former comprising both restite-rich magmas and cumulate rocks, and the felsic granites corresponding to melts that may have undergone fractional crystallisation after prior restite separation. We propose a subdivision of I-type granites into two groups, formed at high and low temperatures. The high-temperature I-type granites formed from a magma that was completely or largely molten, and in which crystals of zircon were not initially present because the melt was understated in zircon. In comparison with low-temperature I-type granites, the compositions extend to lower SiO2 contents and the abundances of Ba, Zr and the rare earth elements initially increase with increasing SiO2 in the more mafic rocks. While the high-temperature I-type granite magmas were produced by the partial melting of mafic source rocks, their low-temperature analogues resulted from the partial melting of quartzofeldspathic rocks such as older tonalites. In that second case, the melt produced was felsic and the more mafic low-temperature I-type granites have that character because of the presence of entrained and magmatically equilibrated restite. High temperature granites are more prospective for mineralisation, both because of that higher temperature and because they have a greater capacity to undergo extended fractional crystallisation, with consequent concentration of incompatible components, including H2O.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)225-235
    Number of pages11
    JournalResource Geology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    • Granite
    • High-temperature granites
    • I-type
    • Low-temperature granites
    • Restite
    • Zircon age inheritance
    • Zr saturation temperature

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