Silicic Magmatism and the Volcanic–Plutonic Connection

The relationships between silicic volcanic and plutonic rocks have long puzzled geologists because the rich set of observations from petrology, geochronology, thermal modeling, geophysical techniques, and geochemistry have led to contradictory interpretations. Although compositional evolutionary trends leading to granite and rhyolite are congruent, it is not clear if rhyolites are formed by the extraction of melt from shallow crystal mushes that otherwise solidify to form granite plutons, or are derived from a greater depth in parallel with granite plutons, or are formed by processes separate from those which form granite plutons. Finding a consistent explanation for the silicic volcanic–plutonic relationship bears on important Earth science questions, including, “How is silicic continental crust formed?” and, “Can we predict supereruptions?”

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