Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 471–488 | Cite as

Temperature dependence of Zr in rutile: empirical calibration of a rutile thermometer

  • T. ZackEmail author
  • R. Moraes
  • A. Kronz
Original Paper


Rutile is an important carrier of high field strength elements (HFSE; Zr, Nb, Mo, Sn, Sb, Hf, Ta, W). Its Zr content is buffered in systems with quartz and zircon as coexisting phases. The effects of temperature (T) and pressure (P) on the Zr content in rutile have been empirically calibrated in this study by analysing rutile–quartz–zircon assemblages of 31 metamorphic rocks spanning a T range from 430 to 1,100°C. Electron microprobe measurements show that Zr concentrations in rutile vary from 30 to 8,400 ppm across this temperature interval, correlating closely with metamorphic grade. The following thermometer has been formulated based on the maximum Zr contents of rutile included in garnet and pyroxene:
$$ T{\text{(in}}\;^ \circ {\text{C) = 127}}{\text{.8}}\, \times {\text{ln (Zr}}\,{\text{in}}\,{\text{ppm)}}\, - {\text{10}} $$
No pressure dependence was observed. An uncertainty in absolute T of ±50°C is inherited from T estimates of the natural samples used. A close approach to equilibrium of Zr distribution between zircon and rutile is suggested based on the high degree of reproducability of Zr contents in rutiles from different rock types from the same locality. At a given locality, the calculated range in T is mostly ±10°C, indicating the geological and analytical precision of the rutile thermometer. Possible applications of this new geothermometer are discussed covering the fields of ultrahigh temperature (UHT) granulites, sedimentary provenance studies and metamorphic field gradients.


Zircon Rutile Ilmenite Titanite High Field Strength Element 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



R. Altherr, R. Klemd and H. Marschall are thanked for providing samples. P.J. O’Brien is thanked for pointing TZ to outcrops relevant for this study. The aforementioned persons as well as P. Cartigny, M. Engi, S. Klemme, D. Lattard, A. Möller, T. Rivers and H. von Eynatten are acknowledged for stimulating discussions. We acknowledge M. Brown and P. Piccoli for letting us use the Microprobe Lab at the University of Maryland where the idea of this paper appeared. Official reviews by P.J. O’Brien and S. Harley helped to clarify this contribution. Financial support is acknowledged from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (ZA 285/2) and the Forschungspool of Universität Heidelberg.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mineralogisches InstitutUniversität HeidelbergHeidelbergGermany
  2. 2.Departamento de Mineralogia e Geotectônica, Instituto de GeociênciasUniversidade de São PauloSão PauloBrazil
  3. 3.Geowissenschaftliches Zentrum der Universität Göttingen, Abteilung GeochemieGöttingenGermany

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