Ca isotopes record rapid crystal growth in volcanic and subvolcanic systems

Michael A. Antonelli*, Tushar Mittal, Anders McCarthy, Barbara Tripoli, James M. Watkins, Donald J. DePaolo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Kinetic calcium isotope effects can be used as growth-rate proxies for volcanic and subvolcanic minerals. Here, we analyze Ca isotopic compositions in experimental and natural samples and confirm that large kinetic effects (>2%) can occur during magmatic plagioclase crystallization. Experiments confirm theoretical predictions that disequilibrium isotope effects depend mainly on the rates for crystal growth relative to liquid phase Ca diffusivity (R/D). Plagioclase phenocrysts from the 1915 Mount Lassen rhyodacite eruption, the ∼650-y-old Deadman Creek Dome eruption, and several mafic subvolcanic orbicules and plagioclase comb layers from Northern California have disequilibrium Ca isotopic compositions that suggest rapid crystal growth rates (>1 cm/y to 15 cm/y). The Ca isotope results, combined with complementary crystal-size distribution analyses, suggest that magmatic rejuvenation (and eruption) events, as reflected in crystal growth times, can be as short as ∼10−3 y. Although mafic systems are predicted to have shorter magmatic rejuvenation periods, we find similarly short timescales in both mafic and silicic systems. These results are consistent with a growing body of evidence suggesting that dominantly crystalline volcanic magma reservoirs can be rapidly reactivated by the injection of fresh magma prior to eruption. By focusing on a common mineral such as plagioclase, this approach can be applied across all major magmatic compositions, suggesting that Ca isotopes can be used as a tool for investigating the dynamics and timing of volcanic eruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20315-20321
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number41
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2019


  • Ca isotopes
  • Crystal growth
  • Magma recharge
  • Timescales
  • Volcanic eruptions


Dive into the research topics of 'Ca isotopes record rapid crystal growth in volcanic and subvolcanic systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this