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Published June 1979 | Published
Journal Article Open

Theoretical petrology


The central issues in petrology have remained remarkably unchanged in the last 50 years. In igneous petrology, the focus is on understanding the nature and cause of diversity in igneous rocks: on identifying primary magma types and constraints on the compositional and mineralogical characteristics, the physical conditions, and the evolutions of their source regions and on establishing the processes by which derivative magmas evolve from primary magmas. In metamorphic petrology, the major concern is with understanding the conditions and processes experienced by a rock in reaching its present state. In both igneous and metamorphic petrology, the ultimate goal is the integration of petrological constraints with those from other branches of earth science into regional and global theories of earth history. What has changed over the years, however, is the framework within which these issues are addressed: the backdrop provided by plate tectonics and geophysical constraints, the growing sophistication of chemical and physical models of rock systems, the ever increasing inputs from trace element and isotopic geochemistry, the sophistication and complexity of experimental approaches to petrological problems, and the growing body of detailed petrological studies of specific rock suites and associations from all over the world. What I will attempt in this report is to pinpoint and briefly review those areas of growing interest and emphasis in American efforts in petrology during the 1975–1978 quadrennium and the ways in which they were shaped by this framework.

Additional Information

© 1979 American Geophysical Union. Comments and reviews by S. Lenker, D. Presnall, R. O. Sack, A. B. Thompson, J. B. Thompson, Jr., D. Walker and R. J. Williams improved the manuscript. This work was supported by NASA grant NGL-22-007-247.

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