The 3-D Shape Preferred Orientation (SPO) ellipsoid can be obtained by image analysis on a minimum of three perpendicular sections, when the 2-D measurements can be assimilated to ellipses. As numerous phenomenons can modify the SPO in magma (boundary condition effects, crystal interactions, joint migrations, etc.), the ellipsoid calculation is first tested on a set of digital models of simple shear flow. Those models, made of scattered shape ratio distribution, show that a suspension of crystals in a simple shear flow of the magma produces SPO parallel to the shear direction with an intensity given by the average shape ratio of the crystals, without any link with the amount of shear flow. This steady state SPO along the flow direction is particularly useful to study magma emplacement even if it is also shown that a critical shear rate γ between 4 and 8, for crystal shape ratio between 2 and 5 respectively, is sufficient to completely reorient a SPO. Therefore the SPO does not record magmatic strain as may do an enclave, which is an interface between two magmas with low viscosity contrast, that can record the whole strain of the magma by its passive deformation along the flow. An infinite strain is necessary here to parallelize the enclave on the shear flow direction. The application to a natural case (gabbronorite of the Bushveld, South Africa) shows that we must take care of the mineral chosen to describe a flow in a magma and that a careful classical study of the structures observed in thin sections is always required. To allow anyone to test the quality of the 2-D/3-D conversions, a web site is associated to this publication with a free access to all the image analysis and ellipsoid programs presented below.

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