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Dacite from Western Carpathians Mineraly.sk - dacit.jpg
Dacite from Western Carpathians

Dacite ( /ˈdˌst/ ) is a volcanic rock formed by rapid solidification of lava that is high in silica and low in alkali metal oxides. It has a fine-grained (aphanitic) to porphyritic texture and is intermediate in composition between andesite and rhyolite. It is composed predominantly of plagioclase feldspar and quartz.


Dacite is relatively common, occurring in many tectonic settings. It is associated with andesite and rhyolite as part of the subalkaline tholeiitic and calc-alkaline magma series.


Aphanitic QAPF diagram denoting dacite Dacite-AphaniticQAPF.gif
Aphanitic QAPF diagram denoting dacite
TAS diagram with the dacite (O3) field highlighted in yellow TAS-Diagramm-dacite.png
TAS diagram with the dacite (O3) field highlighted in yellow

Dacite consists mostly of plagioclase feldspar and quartz with biotite, hornblende, and pyroxene (augite or enstatite). The quartz appears as rounded, corroded phenocrysts, or as an element of the ground-mass. [1] The plagioclase in dacite ranges from oligoclase to andesine and labradorite. Sanidine occurs, although in small proportions, in some dacites, and when abundant gives rise to rocks that form transitions to the rhyolites. [2]

The relative proportions of feldspars and quartz in dacite, and in many other volcanic rocks, are illustrated in the QAPF diagram. This defines dacite as having a content of 20% to 60% quartz, with plagioclase making up 65% or more of its feldspar content. [3] [4] [5] [6] However, while the IUGS recommends classifying volcanic rocks on the basis of their mineral composition whenever possible, dacites are often so fine-grained that mineral identification is impractical. The rock must then be classified chemically based on its content of silica and alkali metal oxides (K2O plus Na2O). The TAS classification puts dacite in the O3 sector.


Grey, red, black, altered white/tan, flow-banded pumice dacite Different types of dacite-1200px.JPG
Grey, red, black, altered white/tan, flow-banded pumice dacite

In hand specimen, many of the hornblende and biotite dacites are grey or pale brown and yellow rocks with white feldspars, and black crystals of biotite and hornblende. Other dacites, especially pyroxene-bearing dacites, are darker colored. [2]

In thin section, dacites may have an aphanitic to porphyritic texture. Porphyritic dacites contain blocky highly zoned plagioclase phenocrysts and/or rounded corroded quartz phenocrysts. Subhedral hornblende and elongated biotite grains are present. Sanidine phenocrysts and augite (or enstatite) are found in some samples. The groundmass of these rocks is often aphanitic microcrystalline, with a web of minute feldspars mixed with interstitial grains of quartz or tridymite; but in many dacites it is largely vitreous, while in others it is felsitic or cryptocrystalline.

Geological context and formation

Thin section of a porphyritic dacite from Mount St. Helens Dacite-ThinSection-USGS.jpg
Thin section of a porphyritic dacite from Mount St. Helens

Dacite usually forms as an intrusive rock such as a dike or sill. Examples of this type of dacite outcrop are found in northwestern Montana and northeastern Bulgaria. Nevertheless, because of the moderately high silica content, dacitic magma is quite viscous [7] and therefore prone to explosive eruption. A notorious example of this is Mount St. Helens in which dacite domes formed from previous eruptions. Pyroclastic flows may also be of dacitic composition as is the case with the Fish Canyon Tuff of La Garita Caldera. [8]

Dacitic magma is formed by the subduction of young oceanic crust under a thick felsic continental plate. Oceanic crust is hydrothermally altered causing addition of quartz and sodium. [9] As the young, hot oceanic plate is subducted under continental crust, the subducted slab partially melts and interacts with the upper mantle through convection and dehydration reactions. [10] The process of subduction creates metamorphism in the subducting slab. When this slab reaches the mantle and initiates the dehydration reactions, minerals such as talc, serpentine, mica and amphiboles break down generating a more sodic melt. [11] The magma then continues to migrate upwards causing differentiation and becomes even more sodic and silicic as it rises. Once at the cold surface, the sodium rich magma crystallizes plagioclase, quartz and hornblende. [12] Accessory minerals like pyroxenes provide insight to the history of the magma.

The formation of dacite provides a great deal of information about the connection between oceanic crust and continental crust. It provides a model for the generation of felsic, buoyant, perennial rock from a mafic, dense, short-lived one.

Dacite's role in the creation of Archean continental crust

The process by which dacite forms has been used to explain the generation of continental crust during the Archean eon. At that time, the production of dacitic magma was more ubiquitous, due to the availability of young, hot oceanic crust. Today, the colder oceanic crust that subducts under most plates is not able to melt prior to the dehydration reactions, thus inhibiting the process. [13]

Molten dacite magma at Kīlauea

Dacitic magma was encountered in a drillhole during geothermal exploration on Kīlauea in 2005. At a depth of 2488 m, the magma flowed up the wellbore. This produced several kilograms of clear, colorless vitric (glassy, non-crystalline) cuttings at the surface. The dacite magma is a residual melt of the typical basalt magma of Kīlauea. [14]


Dacite is relatively common and occurs in various tectonic and magmatic contexts:

Sites of dacite in Europe are Germany (Weiselberg in the Saarland), Greece (Nisyros and Thera), Italy (in Bozen quartz porphyry, and Sardinia), Austria (Styrian Volcano Arc), Romania (Transylvania), Scotland (Argyll), [18] Slovakia, Spain (El Hoyazo near Almería), [19] France (Massif de l'Esterel) [20] and Hungary (Csódi Hill). [21]

Sites outside Europe include Iran, Morocco, New Zealand (volcanic region of Taupo), Turkey, USA and Zambia.[ citation needed ]

Dacite is found extraterrestrially at Nili Patera caldera of Syrtis Major Planum on Mars. [22]


The word dacite comes from Dacia, a province of the Roman Empire which lay between the Danube River and Carpathian Mountains (now modern Romania and Moldova) where the rock was first described. The type-locality of dacite is near the village of Poieni, Cluj (Gizella quarry) located along the Crișul Repede river, Vlădeasa Massif in the northern Apuseni Mountains, Romania. [23]

The term dacite was introduced in the scientific literature by the Austrian geologist Guido Stache, and used for the first time in the book Geologie Siebenbürgens (The Geology of Transylvania). [24] The reason to designate a new igneous rock type was to discriminate between the oligoclase-bearing rocks (dacites) and the orthoclase-bearing rocks (rhyolites) on petrographic grounds. [25]

See also

Related Research Articles

In geology, felsic is an adjective describing igneous rocks that are relatively rich in elements that form feldspar and quartz. It is contrasted with mafic rocks, which are relatively richer in magnesium and iron. Felsic refers to silicate minerals, magma, and rocks which are enriched in the lighter elements such as silicon, oxygen, aluminium, sodium, and potassium. Felsic magma or lava is higher in viscosity than mafic magma/lava.

Granite common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a coarse-grained igneous rock composed mostly of quartz, alkali feldspar, and plagioclase. It forms from magma with a high content of silica and alkali metal oxides that slowly cools and solidifies underground. It is common in the Earth's continental crust, where it is found in various kinds of igneous intrusions. These range in size from dikes only a few inches across to batholiths exposed over hundreds of square kilometers.

Gabbro A coarse-grained mafic intrusive rock

Gabbro is a phaneritic (coarse-grained), mafic intrusive igneous rock formed from the slow cooling of magnesium-rich and iron-rich magma into a holocrystalline mass deep beneath the Earth's surface. Slow-cooling, coarse-grained gabbro is chemically equivalent to rapid-cooling, fine-grained basalt. Much of the Earth's oceanic crust is made of gabbro, formed at mid-ocean ridges. Gabbro is also found as plutons associated with continental volcanism. Due to its variant nature, the term "gabbro" may be applied loosely to a wide range of intrusive rocks, many of which are merely "gabbroic". By rough analogy, gabbro is to basalt as granite is to rhyolite.

Rhyolite An igneous, volcanic rock, of felsic (silica-rich) composition

Rhyolite is the most silica-rich of volcanic rocks. It is generally glassy or fine-grained (aphanitic) in texture, but may be porphyritic, containing larger mineral crystals (phenocrysts) in an otherwise fine-grained rock. The mineral assemblage is predominantly quartz, sanidine and plagioclase. It is the extrusive equivalent to granite.


Trachyte is an extrusive igneous rock composed mostly of alkali feldspar. It is usually light-colored and fine-grained, with minor amounts of mafic minerals, and is formed by the rapid cooling of lava enriched with silica and alkali metals. It is the volcanic equivalent of syenite.


Latite is an igneous, volcanic rock, with aphanitic-aphyric to aphyric-porphyritic texture. Its mineral assemblage is usually alkali feldspar and plagioclase in approximately equal amounts. Quartz is less than five percent and is absent in a feldspathoid-bearing latite, and olivine is absent in a quartz-bearing latite. When quartz content is greater than five percent the rock is classified as quartz latite. Biotite, hornblende, pyroxene and scarce olivine or quartz are common accessory minerals. Feldspathoid-bearing latite is sometimes referred to as tristanite.

Andesite An intermediate volcanic rock

Andesite is an extrusive volcanic rock of intermediate composition. In a general sense, it is the intermediate type between basalt and rhyolite. It is fine-grained (aphanitic) to porphyritic in texture, and is composed predominantly of sodium-rich plagioclase plus pyroxene or hornblende.

Basanite A silica-undersaturated basalt

Basanite is an igneous, volcanic (extrusive) rock with aphanitic to porphyritic texture. It is composed mostly of feldspathoids, pyroxenes, olivine, and plagioclase and forms from magma low in silica and enriched in alkali metal oxides that solidifies rapidly close to the Earth's surface.

Aphanite Igneous rocks which are so fine-grained that their component mineral crystals are not detectable by the unaided eye

Aphanite, or aphanitic as an adjective, is a name given to certain igneous rocks that are so fine-grained that their component mineral crystals are not detectable by the unaided eye. This geological texture results from rapid cooling in volcanic or hypabyssal environments. As a rule, the texture of these rocks is not the same as that of volcanic glass, with volcanic glass being non-crystalline (amorphous), and having a glass-like appearance.

Extrusive rock

Extrusive rock refers to the mode of igneous volcanic rock formation in which hot magma from inside the Earth flows out (extrudes) onto the surface as lava or explodes violently into the atmosphere to fall back as pyroclastics or tuff. In contrast, intrusive rock refers to rocks formed by magma which cools below the surface.

Volcanic rock

Volcanic rock is a rock formed from lava erupted from a volcano. In other words, it differs from other igneous rock by being of volcanic origin. Like all rock types, the concept of volcanic rock is artificial, and in nature volcanic rocks grade into hypabyssal and metamorphic rocks and constitute an important element of some sediments and sedimentary rocks. For these reasons, in geology, volcanics and shallow hypabyssal rocks are not always treated as distinct. In the context of Precambrian shield geology, the term "volcanic" is often applied to what are strictly metavolcanic rocks. Volcanic rocks and sediment that form from magma erupted into the air are called "volcaniclastics," and these are technically sedimentary rocks.


A granitoid is a generic term for a diverse collection of coarse-grained igneous rocks that consist predominantly of quartz, plagioclase, and alkali feldspar. Granitoids range from plagioclase-rich tonalites to alkali-rich syenites and from quartz-poor monzonites to quartz-rich quartzolites. As only 2 of the 3 defining mineral groups need to be presence to be a granitoid, foid-bearing or feldspathoid rocks, meaning rocks predominantly containing feldspars but no quartz, are also granitoids. The terms ‘granite’ and ‘granitic rock’ are commonly used interchangeably for granitoids; however granite is just a particular type of granitoid.


Lamprophyres are uncommon, small volume ultrapotassic igneous rocks primarily occurring as dikes, lopoliths, laccoliths, stocks and small intrusions. They are alkaline silica-undersaturated mafic or ultramafic rocks with high magnesium oxide, >3% potassium oxide, high sodium oxide and high nickel and chromium.


Rhyodacite is a volcanic rock intermediate in composition between dacite and rhyolite. It is the extrusive equivalent of those plutonic rocks that are intermediate in composition between monzogranite and granodiorite. Rhyodacites form from rapid cooling of lava relatively rich in silica and low in alkali metal oxides.

Rock cycle Transitions through geologic time among the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous

The rock cycle is a basic concept in geology that describes transitions through geologic time among the three main rock types: sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. Each rock type is altered when it is forced out of its equilibrium conditions. For example, an igneous rock such as basalt may break down and dissolve when exposed to the atmosphere, or melt as it is subducted under a continent. Due to the driving forces of the rock cycle, plate tectonics and the water cycle, rocks do not remain in equilibrium and change as they encounter new environments. The rock cycle explains how the three rock types are related to each other, and how processes change from one type to another over time. This cyclical aspect makes rock change a geologic cycle and, on planets containing life, a biogeochemical cycle.

Alkali basalt Type of volcanic rock

Alkali basalt or alkali olivine basalt is a dark-colored, porphyritic volcanic rock usually found in oceanic and continental areas associated with volcanic activity, such as oceanic islands, continental rifts and volcanic fields. Alkali basalt is characterized by relatively high alkali (Na2O and K2O) content relative to other basalts and by the presence of olivine and titanium-rich augite in its groundmass and phenocrysts, and nepheline in its CIPW norm.

Igneous rock Rock formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava

Igneous rock, or magmatic rock, is one of the three main rock types, the others being sedimentary and metamorphic. Igneous rock is formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava.

A continental arc is a type of volcanic arc occurring as an "arc-shape" topographic high region along a continental margin. The continental arc is formed at an active continental margin where two tectonic plates meet, and where one plate has continental crust and the other oceanic crust along the line of plate convergence, and a subduction zone develops. The magmatism and petrogenesis of continental crust are complicated: in essence, continental arcs reflect a mixture of oceanic crust materials, mantle wedge and continental crust materials.


Tonalite-trondhjemite-granodiorite rocks or TTG rocks are intrusive rocks with typical granitic composition but containing only a small portion of potassium feldspar. Tonalite, trondhjemite, and granodiorite often occur together in geological records, indicating similar petrogenetic processes. Post Archean TTG rocks are present in arc-related batholiths, as well as in ophiolites, while Archean TTG rocks are major components of Archean cratons.

Polvadera Group A group of geologic formations in New Mexico

The Polvadera Group is a group of geologic formations exposed in and around the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. Radiometric dating gives it an age of 13 to 2.2 million years, corresponding to the Miocene through early Quaternary.


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