Encyclopedia of Geochemistry

Living Edition
| Editors: William M. White

Fractional Crystallization and Assimilation

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-39193-9_285-1


Fractional crystallizationis one of the most important petrogenetic processes contributing to the compositional diversity of magmas and associated igneous rocks of the Earth’s continental and oceanic crust. N.L. Bowen, one of the guiding lights of modern petrology, brought this mechanism to the fore in the early part of the twentieth century. A multicomponent silicate liquid (melt) undergoes fractional crystallization when crystals precipitated from the melt do not remain in equilibrium with residual melt during crystallization. This may occur, for example, by physical separation of crystals from melt (e.g., by gravitative settling or floatation of crystals) or by sluggish crystal-melt reaction kinetics (nucleation and growth) without physical separation. Fractional crystallization in multicomponent silicate liquids is complex compared to crystallization in unary systems because the composition of removed crystals is generally different than the starting liquid...


Partial Melting Fractional Crystallization Country Rock Liquid Line Magma Body 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth ScienceUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA