Granitic plutons worldwide contain ladder structures (LSs) that consist of nested trough-shaped layers alternating between mafic and felsic compositions. LSs and other forms of modal layering have been attributed to crystal accumulation, but their chemical trends differ greatly from those of cumulates and are discordant with chemical variations of their granitic hosts. Mafic layers reach extreme enrichments in transition metals, high-field-strength elements, and incompatible elements, and are extremely depleted in Si and Al. These geochemical characteristics are difficult to explain by crystal accumulation and conflict with sequences of phase appearance during crystallization. They are characteristic of liquid immiscibility, which is an accepted process in the genesis of tholeiitic and alkalic rocks. We propose that ladder structures and other forms of modal layering are markers of immiscibility in calc-alkaline granitic rocks.

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