Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 149, Issue 6, pp 713–734 | Cite as

Experimental and geochemical evidence for derivation of the El Capitan Granite, California, by partial melting of hydrous gabbroic lower crust

  • Kent Ratajeski
  • Thomas W. Sisson
  • Allen F. Glazner
Original Paper


Partial melting of mafic intrusions recently emplaced into the lower crust can produce voluminous silicic magmas with isotopic ratios similar to their mafic sources. Low-temperature (825 and 850°C) partial melts synthesized at 700 MPa in biotite-hornblende gabbros from the central Sierra Nevada batholith (Sisson et al. in Contrib Mineral Petrol 148:635–661, 2005) have major-element and modeled trace-element (REE, Rb, Ba, Sr, Th, U) compositions matching those of the Cretaceous El Capitan Granite, a prominent granite and silicic granodiorite pluton in the central part of the Sierra Nevada batholith (Yosemite, CA, USA) locally mingled with coeval, isotopically similar quartz diorite through gabbro intrusions (Ratajeski et al. in Geol Soc Am Bull 113:1486–1502, 2001). These results are evidence that the El Capitan Granite, and perhaps similar intrusions in the Sierra Nevada batholith with lithospheric-mantle-like isotopic values, were extracted from LILE-enriched, hydrous (hornblende-bearing) gabbroic rocks in the Sierran lower crust. Granitic partial melts derived by this process may also be silicic end members for mixing events leading to large-volume intermediate composition Sierran plutons such as the Cretaceous Lamarck Granodiorite. Voluminous gabbroic residues of partial melting may be lost to the mantle by their conversion to garnet-pyroxene assemblages during batholithic magmatic crustal thickening.


Mafic Rock Basaltic Magma Silicic Magma Gabbroic Rock Mafic Intrusion 
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.



This manuscript was greatly improved from the constructive and insightful reviews of Andy Calvert, Ron Kistler, Jeff Tepper, and an anonymous reviewer. KR thanks Ben Hankins (USGS) for his training and assistance with piston cylinder techniques, Lew Calk and Robert Oscarson (both USGS) and William Meurer and Alan Boudreau (both of Duke University) for their assistance with electron microprobing, and Nobu Shimizu (WHOI) for his assistance with the ion probe during the early stages of the study. This work was funded in part by NSF grant EAR-9805079 to AG and by a Martin Fellowship to KR administered through the UNC Department of Geological Sciences. Field work in Yosemite Valley was supported by research grants to KR by Sigma Xi and the Geological Society of America. Experimental and analytical facilities were supported by the USGS Volcano Hazards and Deep Continental Studies Programs. Whole-rock INAA data was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Reactor Sharing Grant to Oregon State University. SIMS analyses at the Northeast National Ion Microprobe Facility at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution were partially supported by grant EAR-9628749 from the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kent Ratajeski
    • 1
  • Thomas W. Sisson
    • 2
  • Allen F. Glazner
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological Sciences University of West GeorgiaCarrolltonUSA
  2. 2.Volcano Hazards ProgramUnited States Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillUSA

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