Coupled zircon U-Pb age, trace-element, and Lu-Hf isotope analyses from central Sierra Nevada (eastern California, USA) metavolcanic strata reveal the expression of three Mesozoic arc flare-ups in the volcanic record over ∼150 m.y. of magmatic activity. Zircon εHf(i) values vary up to 20 epsilon units within individual samples and coeval sample populations but show no clear links with other geochemical indices, requiring both mixing and fractionation for arc magma genesis. Zircon compositions show repeated temporal trends across flare-ups: Hf isotopes spanning evolved to juvenile values converge to more juvenile compositions, middle rare earth element (MREE) depletion and heavy REE slopes increase during flare-up main phases, and highly variable U/Yb values converge to low values as flare-ups conclude. Despite pervasive contamination, juvenile source magmas dominate magmas erupted throughout the entirety of high-magma-addition episodes. Arc flare-ups thus represent ∼30 m.y. of increased mantle magma input that represents significant continental crust formation in Cordilleran arcs.

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