Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 151, Issue 2, pp 222–242 | Cite as

The development and refinement of continental arcs by primary basaltic magmatism, garnet pyroxenite accumulation, basaltic recharge and delamination: insights from the Sierra Nevada, California

  • Cin-Ty Aeolus LeeEmail author
  • Xin Cheng
  • Ulyana Horodyskyj
Original Paper


The lower crust of the Mesozoic Sierra Nevada batholith was made up of high MgO, garnet-poor and low MgO, garnet-rich pyroxenites. Both groups are genetically linked and are collectively complementary to the mafic to intermediate Sierran plutons. High MgO pyroxenites represent high pressure cumulates from a mantle-derived hydrous basalt or basaltic andesite, resulting in derivative magmas having unusually low MgO for a given SiO2 as represented by the numerous mafic enclaves found in many Sierran plutons. The low MgO pyroxenites are either (1) shallow pressure cumulates from these derivative magmas or (2) partial melting residues (restites) of these derivative magmas after they were emplaced and solidified at lower crustal levels. In both cases, the complementary melt to the low MgO pyroxenites is driven to higher SiO2 contents, generating diorites and granodiorites. However, this simple two-stage scenario for the origin of Sierran granitoids cannot explain the observation that the Mg# of Sierran intermediate magmas remains roughly constant at ∼0.45–0.50 with increasing SiO2. Basaltic recharge/mixing with the lower crust is suggested as one means of buffering Mg#s and re-melting the lower crust to generate granitic melts, the latter of which mix with more juvenile magmas to complete the Sierran differentiation series.


Olivine Rutile Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry Continental Crust Fractional Crystallization 
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.



The following people are thanked for discussions and/or inspiration relating to the Sierra Nevada, “eclogites”, and continental crust over the years: W. P. Leeman, Z.-X. A. Li, R. Rudnick, M. Barth, G. J. Wasserburg, P. Kelemen, E. Humphreys, G. Brimhall, M. Ducea, J. Saleeby, A. Glazner, and G. L. Farmer. Critical reviews by M. Ducea and K. Ratajeski are greatly appreciated and helped to improve the mansucript. Comments made by M. Hirschmann and T. Grove also helped the manuscript. A. Peslier is thanked for help on electron microprobe analyses. This research was supported in part by NSF grants EAR 0440033 and 0309121. Undergraduate support for U. Horodyskyj came from NSF and Rice University.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cin-Ty Aeolus Lee
    • 1
    Email author
  • Xin Cheng
    • 1
  • Ulyana Horodyskyj
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Earth Science, MS-126Rice UniversityHoustonUSA

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