Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 154, Issue 4, pp 429–437 | Cite as

New thermodynamic models and revised calibrations for the Ti-in-zircon and Zr-in-rutile thermometers

  • J. M. Ferry
  • E. B. Watson
Original Paper


The models recognize that ZrSiO4, ZrTiO4,  and TiSiO4, but not ZrO2 or TiO2, are independently variable phase components in zircon. Accordingly, the equilibrium controlling the Zr content of rutile coexisting with zircon is ZrSiO4 = ZrO2 (in rutile) +  SiO2. The equilibrium controlling the Ti content of zircon is either ZrSiO4 + TiO2 = ZrTiO4 + SiO2 or TiO2 + SiO2 = TiSiO4, depending whether Ti substitutes for Si or Zr. The Zr content of rutile thus depends on the activity of SiO2 \((a_{\text{SiO}_{2}})\) as well as T, and the Ti content of zircon depends on \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) and \(a_{\text{TiO}_{2}}\) as well as T. New and published experimental data confirm the predicted increase in the Zr content of rutile with decreasing \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}},\) and unequivocally demonstrate that the Ti content of zircon increases with decreasing \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\). The substitution of Ti in zircon therefore is primarily for Si. Assuming a constant effect of P, unit \(a_{\text{ZrSiO}_{4}},\) and that \(a_{\text{ZrO}_{2}}\) and \(a_{\text{ZrTiO}_{4}}\) are proportional to ppm Zr in rutile and ppm Ti in zircon, [log(ppm Zr-in-rutile) + log\(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\)] = A1 + B1/T(K) and  [log(ppm Ti-in-zircon) + log\(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) − log\(a_{\text{TiO}_{2}}\)] = A2 + B2/T, where the A and B are constants. The constants were derived from published and new data from experiments with \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) buffered by either quartz or zircon + zirconia, from experiments with \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) defined by the Zr content of rutile, and from well-characterized natural samples. Results are A1 = 7.420 ± 0.105;  B1 = −4,530 ± 111;  A2 = 5.711 ± 0.072;  B2 = −4,800 ± 86 with activity referenced to α-quartz and rutile at P and T of interest. The zircon thermometer may now be applied to rocks without quartz and/or rutile, and the rutile thermometer applied to rocks without quartz, provided that \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) and \(a_{\text{TiO}_{2}}\) are estimated. Maximum uncertainties introduced to zircon and rutile thermometry by unconstrained \(a_{\text{SiO}_{2}}\) and \(a_{\text{TiO}_{2}}\) can be quantitatively assessed and are ≈60 to 70°C at 750°C. A preliminary assessment of the dependence of the two thermometers on P predicts that an uncertainty of ±1 GPa introduces an additional uncertainty at 750°C of ≈50°C for the Ti-in-zircon thermometer and of ≈70 to 80°C for the Zr-in-rutile thermometer.


Zircon Rutile Calibration Point Zirconium Titanate Baddeleyite 
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Research supported by National Science Foundation grant EAR-0229267 to J.M.F. and EAR-0440228 to E.B.W. We thank Dave Elbert, Bob Hazen, and David Veblen for advice on the crystal chemistry of Ti substitution in zircon; Jon Price and Dave Wark for assistance with electron microprobe analyses; and two anonymous reviewers for their comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth and Planetary SciencesJohns Hopkins UniversityBaltimoreUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesRensselaer Polytechnic InstituteTroyUSA

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