Growth and Differentiation of the Continental Crust from Isotope Studies of Accessory Minerals

A.I.S. Kemp, C. J. Hawkesworth

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


Accessory minerals provide powerful, and sometimes unique, insights into continental evolution that far outweigh their size and abundance in crustal rocks. These insights stem from the wealth of chemical and isotopic information harbored by these tiny repositories, including U-Th-Pb isotopes that provide robust chronological frameworks and isotope tracers that fingerprint petrogenetic processes, and the capability for such information to be retained across a range of geological environments. The authors highlight ways that isotope tracer data from the accessory mineral archive can be used to elucidate the growth and differentiation of the continental crust, focussing on the key areas of (1) early Earth evolution, (2) the timing and rates of continental growth, (3) the generation of silicic magmas, and (4) the geodynamics of continent generation. These studies inevitably revolve around zircon, and all reinforce the need for careful integration of microstructural, age, and isotope tracer information, preferably from multiple isotope systems, on the same grains, or parts of the grains. Greater knowledge of the stability of accessory minerals and of the factors governing their uptake of trace elements will amplify the importance of the information they contain, which will in turn impact upon a wider range of geological problems in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTreatise on Geochemistry
Subtitle of host publicationSecond Edition
EditorsHeinrich D. Holland, Karl K. Turekian
Place of PublicationUSA
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)9780080983004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2014


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