First evaluation of stiff-in-soft host–inclusion systems: experimental synthesis of zircon inclusions in quartz crystals

Joseph P. Gonzalez, Jay B. Thomas, Mattia L. Mazzucchelli, Ross J. Angel, Matteo Alvaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Quartz crystals with zircon inclusions were synthesized using a piston-cylinder apparatus to experimentally evaluate the use of inclusions in “soft” host minerals for elastic thermobarometry. Synthesized zircon inclusion strains and, therefore, pressures (P inc) were measured using Raman spectroscopy and then compared with the expected inclusion strains and pressures calculated from elastic models. Measured inclusion strains and inclusion pressures are systematically more tensile than the expected values and, thus, re-calculated entrapment pressures are overestimated. These discrepancies are not caused by analytical biases or assumptions in the elastic models and strain calculations. Analysis shows that inclusion strain discrepancies progressively decrease with decreasing experimental temperature in the α-quartz field. This behavior is consistent with inelastic deformation of the host–inclusion pairs induced by the development of large differential stresses during experimental cooling. Therefore, inclusion strains are more reliable for inclusions trapped at lower temperature conditions in the α-quartz field where there is less inelastic deformation of the host–inclusion systems. On the other hand, entrapment isomekes of zircon inclusions entrapped in the β-quartz stability field plot along the α–β quartz phase boundary, suggesting that the inclusion strains were mechanically reset at the phase boundary during experimental cooling and decompression. Therefore, inclusions contained in soft host minerals can be used for elastic thermobarometry and inclusions contained in β-quartz may provide constraints on the P–T at which the host–inclusion system crossed the phase boundary during exhumation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number13
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • Elastic thermobarometry
  • Host-inclusion
  • Piston-cylinder
  • Quartz
  • Zircon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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