An orbicular diorite from Fisher Lake, California, USA, contains multi-shelled, magmatic orbicules with branching and budding orthopyroxene crystals as well as feather and acicular plagioclase crystals that are oriented perpendicular to the growth horizon. Plagioclase and orthopyroxene show gradual, reverse compositional zoning along the long axes and normal zoning along the short axes. The reverse zoning varies from An87 to An93 and Mg68 to Mg74 over distances of 4 mm and 8 mm respectively. The close proximity of these two minerals makes it likely that only one mechanism is responsible for the reverse zoning. This zoning can be explained by using relevant temperature-composition diagrams and Gibbs free energy-composition plots. Under sudden and moderate undercoolings, which produce high growth but low nucleation rates, the difference in Gibbs free energy (ΔG) between the crystals and liquid is not initially maximized, i.e. initial compositions are not near-to-equilibrium. This results in crystal compositions that are closer to that of the bulk liquid than expected for crystallization under near-to-equilibrium conditions (i.e. very small ΔT). Over time, and under isothermal crystallization conditions, ΔG gradually increases to a maximum producing crystal compositions that also gradually attain near-to-equilibrium compositions. Subsequent to attaining these conditions, normal zoning occurs perpendicular to the crystal growth axes.

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