Half a million years of magmatic history recorded in a K-feldspar megacryst of the tuolumne intrusive complex, California, USA

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K-feldspars reach megacrystic size (>3 cm) relative to their groundmass in many granitoid plutons and some volcanic rocks. However, the nature of the growth environment and the time scales for megacrystic growth remain poorly constrained. Chemical abrasion-isotope dilution-thermal ionization mass spectrometry with trace-element analysis (CA-ID-TIMS-TEA) U-Pb geochronology was carried out on zircon inclusions from the core and rim of one K-feldspar megacryst sampled from the interior of the Tuolumne Intrusive Complex (TIC), California, USA. Combined with new zircon ages from the groundmass, these data can test if K-feldspar megacrysts are igneous and capable of recycling and transport in the magmatic system or whether they formed by textural coarsening in low-melt-fraction or subsolidus conditions. The zircon ages reveal that the megacryst core is 0.5 m.y. older than the rim, which itself is older than the groundmass. Core ages match zircon dates from the TIC's porphyritic Half Dome unit, and rim and groundmass ages overlap with the younger Cathedral Peak unit. Trace elements of the zircons from the megacryst core and rim are similar and less evolved than the groundmass zircons. The core-to-rim age progression of zircon inclusions is inconsistent with subsolidus K-feldspar coarsening, but instead indicates that megacrysts in the TIC grew in an igneous environment over at least 0.5 m.y., and that growth likely occurred spanning two or more intrusive episodes. This supports models of an increasingly maturing magmatic system, where crystal recycling from older into younger magma batches is common. © 2020 The Authors. Gold Open Access.


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