Lithologic and magnetic-susceptibility mapping of the western Half Dome Granodiorite of the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite of California reveals seven km-scale lithologic cycles, each of which is bounded by a sharp west-dipping contact that is subparallel to the external contact of the pluton. Crosscutting relations indicate that the cycles become younger to the east. Each cycle is inferred to have been a zone of partial melt in which an eastern melt-depleted base grades westward to a melt-rich top now preserved as a leucocratic facies of the Half Dome Granodiorite. Sharp contacts between cycles may record freezing episodes when the rate of heat input into the growing pluton dropped below that required to maintain interstitial melt. Thus, the interstitial melt zone migrated with time and its size at any given time need not have differed greatly from the ∼1 km thickness of the cycles. Cycles occur on the outer, older margins of the suite, and disappear toward the interior, younger intrusions. Inward disappearance of cycles likely reflects thermal maturation of the system such that melt was continuously present until the final migration of the solidus through the intrusive suite. Although the cycles span the compositional range from granodiorite to leucogranite, trace-element trends preserved in the cycles differ dramatically from those of both the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite and other Cretaceous zoned plutons of the eastern Sierra Nevada batholith. We suggest that (1) the compositional variations of the intrusive suite and the batholith reflect a signal from the source of the magmas, and (2) the geochemistry within the km-scale cycles reflects in situ crystal/liquid separation.
- Received 18 February 2012.
- Revision received 13 August 2012.
- Accepted 13 August 2012.
- © 2012 Geological Society of America