Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 197–215 | Cite as

Ti-in-zircon thermometry: applications and limitations

  • Bin Fu
  • F. Zeb Page
  • Aaron J. Cavosie
  • John Fournelle
  • Noriko T. Kita
  • Jade Star Lackey
  • Simon A. Wilde
  • John W. ValleyEmail author
Original Paper


The titanium concentrations of 484 zircons with U-Pb ages of ∼1 Ma to 4.4 Ga were measured by ion microprobe. Samples come from 45 different igneous rocks (365 zircons), as well as zircon megacrysts (84) from kimberlite, Early Archean detrital zircons (32), and zircon reference materials (3). Samples were chosen to represent a large range of igneous rock compositions. Most of the zircons contain less than 20 ppm Ti. Apparent temperatures for zircon crystallization were calculated using the Ti-in-zircon thermometer (Watson et al. 2006, Contrib Mineral Petrol 151:413–433) without making corrections for reduced oxide activities (e.g., TiO2 or SiO2), or variable pressure. Average apparent Ti-in-zircon temperatures range from 500° to 850°C, and are lower than either zircon saturation temperatures (for granitic rocks) or predicted crystallization temperatures of evolved melts (∼15% melt residue for mafic rocks). Temperatures average: 653 ± 124°C (2 standard deviations, 60 zircons) for felsic to intermediate igneous rocks, 758 ± 111°C (261 zircons) for mafic rocks, and 758 ± 98°C (84 zircons) for mantle megacrysts from kimberlite. Individually, the effects of reduced \( a_{{\rm TiO}_{2}}\) or \( a_{{\rm SiO}_{2}}\), variable pressure, deviations from Henry’s Law, and subsolidus Ti exchange are insufficient to explain the seemingly low temperatures for zircon crystallization in igneous rocks. MELTs calculations show that mafic magmas can evolve to hydrous melts with significantly lower crystallization temperature for the last 10–15% melt residue than that of the main rock. While some magmatic zircons surely form in such late hydrous melts, low apparent temperatures are found in zircons that are included within phenocrysts or glass showing that those zircons are not from evolved residue melts. Intracrystalline variability in Ti concentration, in excess of analytical precision, is observed for nearly all zircons that were analyzed more than once. However, there is no systematic change in Ti content from core to rim, or correlation with zoning, age, U content, Th/U ratio, or concordance in U-Pb age. Thus, it is likely that other variables, in addition to temperature and \( a_{{\rm TiO}_{2}}\), are important in controlling the Ti content of zircon. The Ti contents of igneous zircons from different rock types worldwide overlap significantly. However, on a more restricted regional scale, apparent Ti-in-zircon temperatures correlate with whole-rock SiO2 and HfO2 for plutonic rocks of the Sierra Nevada batholith, averaging 750°C at 50 wt.% SiO2 and 600°C at 75 wt.%. Among felsic plutons in the Sierra, peraluminous granites average 610 ± 88°C, while metaluminous rocks average 694 ± 94°C. Detrital zircons from the Jack Hills, Western Australia with ages from 4.4 to 4.0 Ga have apparent temperatures of 717 ± 108°C, which are intermediate between values for felsic rocks and those for mafic rocks. Although some mafic zircons have higher Ti content, values for Early Archean detrital zircons from a proposed granitic provenance are similar to zircons from many mafic rocks, including anorthosites from the Adirondack Mts (709 ± 76°C). Furthermore, the Jack Hills zircon apparent Ti-temperatures are significantly higher than measured values for peraluminous granites (610 ± 88°C). Thus the Ti concentration in detrital zircons and apparent Ti-in-zircon temperatures are not sufficient to independently identify parent melt composition.


Titanium Zircon Thermometry Anorthosite Gabbro Granite Early Archean Jack Hills 



We thank Brian Hess for preparation of zircon mounts, and Ilya Bindeman, Mike Hamilton, Liz King, and Robert Zartman for providing some of the zircon separates. Lance Black, Chris Foudoulis and Keith Sircombe provided a rock sample of the Temora gabbroic diorite. Bruce Watson provided a synthetic Ti-rich zircon for standardization of SIMS data. John Craven and Richard Hinton assisted in analysis of Ti in Jack Hills zircons. Doug Morrison and Louise Edwards assisted with MELTs. Constructive reviews by John Eiler and an anonymous referee led to improvement of this manuscript and are gratefully appreciated. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation (EAR-0509639), Department of Energy (93ER14389) and NASA Astrobiology Institute (NO7-5489). Wisc-SIMS, the UW Ion Microprobe Lab, is supported by the University of Wisconsin, Madison and the National Science Foundation (EAR-0319230 and EAR-0516725).

Supplementary material

410_2008_281_MOESM1_ESM.xls (108 kb)
Supplementary Materials S1. Ion microprobe analyses of Ti concentrations in zircons from mafic to felsic igneous rocks. All analyses were made with the CAMECA IMS-1280 ion microprobe at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, except the Jack Hills detrital zircons done using a CAMECA IMS-4f at the University of Edinburgh. (XLS 108 kb)
410_2008_281_MOESM2_ESM.xls (72 kb)
Supplementary Materials S2. Electron microprobe analyses of Hf content in zircons from mafic to felsic igneous rocks, Sierra Nevada (cation total = 2, formula) (XLS 72 kb)
410_2008_281_MOESM3_ESM.xls (22 kb)
Supplementary Materials S3. Whole-rock analysis of major components (wt.%) and Zr (ppm). (XLS 22 kb)
410_2008_281_MOESM4_ESM.xls (26 kb)
Supplementary Materials S4. Results of MELTs program. (XLS 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bin Fu
    • 1
    • 5
  • F. Zeb Page
    • 1
    • 6
  • Aaron J. Cavosie
    • 2
  • John Fournelle
    • 1
  • Noriko T. Kita
    • 1
  • Jade Star Lackey
    • 3
  • Simon A. Wilde
    • 4
  • John W. Valley
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeophysicsUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeologyUniversity of Puerto RicoMayagüezUSA
  3. 3.Geology DepartmentPomona CollegeClaremontUSA
  4. 4.Department of Applied GeologyCurtin University of TechnologyPerthAustralia
  5. 5.School of Earth SciencesThe University of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia
  6. 6.Geology DepartmentOberlin CollegeOberlinUSA

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