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Abstract

Granites (sensu lato) come in many types and flavours, defining distinct magmatic series/suites/types. A good classification not only gives generally accepted and understandable names to similar rocks but also links the bulk chemical composition to the stoichiometry of the constituent minerals and, potentially, also to the likely source, magmatic evolution and tectonic setting.

The ‘ideal’ granitoid classification should be based on chemical criteria amenable to an objective treatment. Statistical analysis helps to identify the most discriminant variables. The key properties are (1) acidity/maficity, (2) alkalinity (balance of Na + K v. Ca), (3) aluminosity (balance of Al v. Ca, Na and K), (4) Fe/Mg balance and (5) Na/K balance and K contents at the given SiO2 level. These are used by successful classifications, e.g. the I/S dichotomy is based mainly on aluminosity, while the Frost et al. (2001; ‘A geochemical classification for granitic rocks', Journal of Petrology, 42, 2033–2048, https://doi.org/10.1093/petrology/42.11.2033) classification includes all but Na/K. Even though it is commonplace to use weight percentages of oxides, we suggest that a better strategy is to employ simple atomic parameters (e.g. millications-based) that can be directly linked to modal proportions and compositions/crystal structure of individual rock-forming minerals. This facilitates a petrological interpretation, which, in turn, can be related to petrogenesis and, ultimately, to likely tectonic setting(s).

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