, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 231-244
Date: 05 Aug 2008

Deformation-related microstructures in magmatic zircon and implications for diffusion

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An undeformed glomeroporphyritic andesite from the Sunda Arc of Java, Indonesia, contains zoned plagioclase and amphibole glomerocrysts in a fine-grained groundmass and records a complex history of adcumulate formation and subsequent magmatic disaggregation. A suite of xenocrystic zircon records Proterozoic and Archaean dates whilst a discrete population of zoned, euhedral, igneous zircon yields a SHRIMP U-Pb crystallisation age of 9.3 ± 0.2 Ma. Quantitative microstructural analysis of zircon by electron backscatter diffraction (EBSD) shows no deformation in the inherited xenocrysts, but intragrain orientation variations of up to 30° in 80% of the young zircon population. These variations are typically accommodated by both progressive crystallographic bending and discrete low angle boundaries that overprint compositional growth zoning. Dispersion of crystallographic orientations are dominantly by rotation about an axis parallel to the zircon c-axis [001], which is coincident with the dominant orientation of misorientation axes of adjacent analysis points in EBSD maps. Less common <100> misorientation axes account for minor components of crystallographic dispersion. These observations are consistent with zircon deformation by dislocation creep and the formation of tilt and twist boundaries associated with the operation of <001>{100} and <100>{010} slip systems. The restriction of deformation microstructures to large glomerocrysts and the young magmatic zircon population, and the absence of deformation within the host igneous rock and inherited zircon grains, indicate that zircon deformation took place within a low-melt fraction (<5% melt), mid-lower crustal cumulate prior to fragmentation during magmatic disaggregation and entrainment of xenocrystic zircons during magmatic decompression. Tectonic stresses within the compressional Sunda Arc at the time of magmatism are considered to be the probable driver for low-strain deformation of the cumulate in the late stages of initial crystallisation. These results provide the first evidence of crystal plastic dislocation creep in zircon associated with magmatic crystallisation and indicate that the development of crystal-plastic microstructures in zircon is not restricted to high-strain rocks. Such microstructures have previously been shown to enhance bulk diffusion of trace elements (U, Th and REE) in zircon. The development of deformation microstructures, and therefore multiple diffusion pathways in zircon in the magmatic environment, has significant implications for the interpretation of geochemical data from igneous zircon and the trace element budgets of melts due to the potential enhancement of bulk diffusion and dissolution rates.

Communicated by B. Collins.