Determination of zircon/melt trace element partition coefficients from SIMS analysis of melt inclusions in zircon Academic Article uri icon


  • Partition coefficients for rare earth elements (REE) (La, Ce, Nd, Sm, Dy, Er and Yb) and other trace elements (Ba, Rb, B, Sr, Ti, Y and Nb) between zircon and melt have been calculated from secondary ion mass spectrometric (SIMS) analyses of zircon/melt inclusion pairs. The melt inclusion-mineral (MIM) technique shows that D-REE increase in compatibility with increasing atomic number, similar to results of previous studies. However, D-REE determined using the MIM technique are, in general, lower than previously reported values. Calculated D-REE indicate that light REE with atomic numbers less than Sm are incompatible in zircon and become more incompatible with decreasing atomic number. This behavior is in contrast to most previously published results which indicate D > 1 and define a flat partitioning pattern for elements from La through Sm. The partition coefficients for the heavy REE determined using the MIM technique are lower than previously published results by factors of approximate to15 to 20 but follow a similar trend. These differences are thought to reflect the effects of mineral and/or glass contaminants in samples from earlier studies which employed bulk analysis techniques. D-REE determined using the MIM technique agree well with values predicted using the equations of Brice (1975), which are based on the size and elasticity of crystallographic sites. The presence of Ce4+ in the melt results in elevated D-Ce compared to neighboring REE due to the similar valence and size of Ce4+ and Zr4+. Predicted D-zircom/melt values for Ce4+ and Ce3+ indicate that the Ce4+/Ce3+ ratios of the melt ranged from about 10(-3) to 10(-2). Partition coefficients for other trace elements determined in this study increase in compatibility in the order Ba < Rb < B < Sr < Ti < Y < Nb, with Ba, Rb, B and Sr showing incompatible behavior (D-M < 1.0), and Ti, Y and Nb showing compatible behavior (D-M > 1.0). The effect of partition coefficients on melt evolution during petrogenetic modeling was examined using partition coefficients determined in this study and compared to trends obtained using published partition coefficients. The lower D-REE determined in this study result in smaller REE bulk distribution coefficients, for a given mineral assemblage, compared to those calculated using previously reported values. As an example, fractional crystallization of an assemblage composed of 35% hornblende, 64.5% plagioclase and 0.5% zircon produces a melt that becomes increasingly more enriched in Yb using the D-Yb from this study. Using D-Yb from Fujimaki (1986) results in a melt that becomes progressively depleted in Yb during crystallization. Copyright (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd.

publication date

  • August 2002