Low- and high-temperature granites

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

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    93 Citations (Scopus)


    I-type granites can be assigned to low- and high-temperature groups. The distinction between those groups is formally based on the presence or absence of inherited zircon in relatively mafic rocks of a suite containing less than about 68% SiO2, and shown in many cases by distinctive patterns of compositional variation. Granites of the low-temperature group formed at relatively low magmatic temperatures by the partial melting dominantly of the haplogranite components Qz, Ab and Or in H2O-bearing crustal source rocks. More mafic granites of this type have that character because they contain restite minerals, often including inherited zircon, which were entrained in a more felsic melt. In common with other elements, Zr contents correlate linearly with SiO2, except sometimes in very felsic rocks, and Zr generally decreases as the rocks become more felsic. All S-type granites are apparently low-temperature in origin. After most or all of the restite has been removed from the magma, these granites may evolve further by fractional crystallisation. High-temperature granites formed from a magma that was completely or largely molten, in which zircon crystals were not initially present because the melt was not saturated in that mineral. High-temperature suites commonly evolved compositionally through fractional crystallisation and they may extend to much more mafic compositions through the production of cumulate rocks. However, it is probable that, in some cases, the compositional differences within high-temperature suites arose from varying degrees of partial melting of similar source rocks. Volcanic equivalents of both groups exist and show analogous differences. There are petrographic differences between the two groups and significant mineralisation is much more likely to be associated with the high-temperature granites. The different features of the two groups relate to distinctive source rock compositions. Low-temperature granites were derived from source rocks in which the haplogranite components were present throughout partial melting, whereas the source materials of the high-temperature granites were deficient in one of those components, which therefore, became depleted during the melting, causing the temperatures of melting to rise.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)125-140
    Number of pages16
    JournalTransactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Earth Sciences
    Issue number1-2
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


    • Cumulate
    • Fractional crystallisation
    • Mineralisation
    • Restite
    • Zircon cores
    • Zircon saturation temperature
    • Zirconium


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