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Abstract

Granitic plutons have long been recognized to form a major component of the continental crust. However, the processes by which they grow are controversial and the estimated rates of processes that govern their formation, such as magma generation and ascent and wall-rock deformation, range over several orders of magnitude (e.g., Miller et al., 1988; Petford et al., 2000; Gerbi et al., 2004). Limits to our understanding of the plutonic record restrict geologists' ability to take advantage of that record to understand the workings of magmatic systems and to incorporate pluton emplacement and other plutonic processes into tectonic syntheses. For example, upper-crustal plutons are the most direct geologic record of the magmatic plumbing systems beneath volcanic centers, but a lack of consensus about how to interpret that plutonic record hinders the synthesis of volcanic and plutonic observations into an integrated understanding of magmatic systems.

This situation in many ways resembles the divide that until relatively recently characterized geologic understanding of faults. Structural geology, geomorphology, and seismology each provide insight into aspects of the structures that produce most earthquakes and that accommodate large finite deformations at and near the Earth's surface. However, only in the last 25 years has there been a concerted effort to combine knowledge of subsurface processes from ancient fault zones now exposed at the surface with geophysical and surficial geologic observations of active faults. The result has been an enhanced understanding of earthquake processes and a more integrated view of the nature of faults and seismicity. In principle

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