The magmatic history of a continental arc can be characterized as punctuated equilibrium, whereby long periods of low-level activity are interrupted periodically by short bursts of high-volume magmatism (“flare-ups”). Geochronological records, most notably from zircon, reveal episodicity in volcanism, pluton formation, and detrital sedimentation in, and associated with, arc segments and volcano-plutonic suites. Distinct tempos can be recognized at all resolvable spatial and temporal scales and are broadly fractal, with each scale reflecting the timescale of processes occurring at different levels in the arc crust. The tempos of continental arc magmatism thus reflect modulation of the mantle-power input as it is progressively filtered through the continental crust.

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