A simple method may provide greater insights into the sort of pathways and time-scales in which magmatic systems evolve. The method, employing isotopic fingerprinting of the mineral components that characterize most magmatic rocks, may lead to a more comprehensive understanding of these types of rocks. Such an understanding is critical to resolving fundamental problems in geoscience, ranging from the origin and differentiation of the crust and mantle to the prediction of volcanic hazards.
Much progress has been made in the past 30 to 40 years, first with the widespread application of experimental studies on natural and synthetic systems, and more recently with the application of chemical and isotopic constraints on the origin of igneous rocks. Despite this progress, however, many questions remain, and that is where isotopic fingerprinting may help.