Accessory minerals preserve important records of the evolution of magmatic systems, but study of their textures and contact relations is hindered by the lack of suitable methods for characterization. We show here that differential absorption X-ray tomography can be used to yield three-dimensional maps of selected elements, particularly Zr and rare earth elements (REE), making it possible to qualitatively and quantitatively document the textures of zircon and REE minerals in situ and in three dimensions. We apply this method to pumice from the Peach Spring Tuff (Nevada, Arizona, California) and Mount St. Helens (Washington State) and present a few illustrative examples of the kinds of data that can be extracted using elemental and conventional tomographic data. Particularly when combined with compositional and age data, the ability to visualize and document accessory minerals in three dimensions and in textural context opens exciting new possibilities for the study of accessory minerals and the rocks that contain them.
- Received 20 November 2009.
- Revision received 22 April 2010.
- Accepted 4 May 2010.
- © 2010 Geological Society of America