Natural zircon crystals incorporate rare earth elements (REE) into their structure at concentrations determined by the pressure, temperature, and composition of their growth environment. In principle, REE concentrations in magmatic zircon crystals can be used to infer their conditions of growth and the composition of the melt from which they grew—provided accurate information is available about the distribution of REE between zircon and melt. Currently available zircon-melt partitioning data show a range in values covering several orders of magnitude for some REE. Further experimental work and studies using carefully selected natural samples are required to fully understand REE incorporation in zircon.

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