Trace Element Partitioning: The Influences of Ionic Radius, Cation Charge, Pressure, and Temperature

B. J. Wood*, J. D. Blundy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

42 Citations (Scopus)


Advances in analytical geochemistry have made it possible to determine precisely the concentrations of many trace elements and their isotopes in rocks. In the case of igneous and related rocks, these data provide important constraints on the composition and geochemical evolution of the silicate Earth. Here, the theoretical basis for the understanding of the controls on partitioning of trace elements between crystals and silicate melts is reviewed. The authors show that lattice-strain theory is a powerful and quantifiable means of predicting and extrapolating trace element partition coefficients. The difference in charge between the trace ion and the major ion, which it replaces in the crystal, is also found to contribute an important, quantifiable term in the energy of dissolution of the trace ion into the crystal. The authors consider the limits of Henry's law and show that heterovalent substitutions into some phases (e.g., clinopyroxene) obey Henry's law over wide concentration ranges, while similar substitutions in olivine violate Henry's law even at very low concentrations. Finally, a summary of experimentally determined partition coefficients for a large number of elements substituting into major phases of upper mantle and crust is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTreatise on Geochemistry: Second Edition
PublisherJAI-Elsevier Science Inc
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9780080983004
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • Igneous geochemistry
  • Ionic radius
  • Lattice strain
  • Partition coefficients
  • Trace elements


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