Silica-rich granites and rhyolites are components of igneous rock suites found in many tectonic environments, both continental and oceanic. Silica-rich magmas may arise by a range of processes including partial melting, magma mixing, melt extraction from a crystal mush, and fractional crystallization. These processes may result in rocks dominated by quartz and feldspars. Even though their mineralogies are similar, silica-rich rocks retain in their major and trace element geochemical compositions evidence of their petrogenesis. In this paper we examine silica-rich rocks from various tectonic settings, and from their geochemical compositions we identify six groups with distinct origins. Three groups form by differentiation: ferroan alkali-calcic magmas arise by differentiation of tholeiite, magnesian calc-alkalic or calcic magmas form by differentiation of high-Al basalt or andesite, and ferroan peralkaline magmas derive from transitional or alkali basalt. Peraluminous leucogranites form by partial melting of pelitic rocks, and ferroan calc-alkalic rocks by partial melting of tonalite or granodiorite. The final group, the trondhjemites, is derived from basaltic rocks. Trondhjemites include Archean trondhjemites, peraluminous trondhjemites, and oceanic plagiogranites, each with distinct geochemical signatures reflecting their different origins. Volcanic and plutonic silica-rich rocks rarely are exposed together in a single magmatic center. Therefore, in relating extrusive complements to intrusive silica-rich rocks and determining whether they are geochemically identical, comparing rocks formed from the same source rocks by the same process is important; this classification aids in that undertaking.

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