In this issue of Elements we explore the characteristics, potential causes, and implications of episodic magmatism in arcs. A comparison of U–Pb bedrock and detrital zircon ages in arcs with independent calculations of volumetric magma addition rates (MARs) indicates that the former nicely track the episodic temporal histories of arc magmatism but not MARs. MAR estimates indicate that 100–1000 times more magmatism is added to continental arcs during flare-ups than during lulls and result in plutonic/volcanic ratios of >30/1. Episodic arc magmatism may result from external forcing on arc systems caused by events outside the arc and/or from internal cyclic processes driven by feedback between linked tectonic and magmatic processes within the arc. Along and across arc strike, changes and asymmetries in magmatic, tectonic, and geochemical histories provide important constraints for evaluating these poorly understood driving mechanisms.

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