The detrital zircon grains from two catchments in the East Eifel Volcanic Field consist of crystals sourced from proximal deposits of Quaternary trachytic–phonolitic volcanic centres, Hocheifel Paleogene trachytic rocks and the Paleozoic basement. The outcrop patterns indicate the derivation of a significant detrital zircon population from deposits of the c. 13 ka Lower and Upper Laacher See Tephra. Intercalated Middle Laacher See Tephra, consisting of valley-filling ignimbrites, by contrast, is a minor zircon source despite thick ignimbrite deposits in one of the catchments. This reflects zircon undersaturation in the hotter and less evolved phonolite tapped from deeper parts of the magma reservoir as the eruption unfolded, as well as fewer antecrysts recycled from the plutonic carapace. A previously unrecognized zircon age population of c. 63 ka, mostly derived from Lower Laacher See Tephra, marks the onset of the presence of evolved magma at the top of the reservoir. Correlative Hf and O isotopic analysis reveals significant crustal interactions during phonolite differentiation in a shallow reservoir, with the assimilation of cogenetic, but hydrothermally modified, plutonic margins. Raman spectra indicate that magmatically heated crustal zircon xenocrysts are absent. Detrital zircon can thus provide more integrated insights into the evolution of Quaternary magma systems than the punctuated sampling of volcanic or cogenetic plutonic rocks.

Supplementary material: Data tables presenting U–Th, U–Pb, O–Hf and Raman geochronology results are available at

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