Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jade Star Lackey

Reader 2

Eric Grosfils

Reader 3

Lori Bettison-Varga

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2014 Jane L. Eisenberg


Orbicular and comb layer textures in igneous environments are evidence of an unusual heating and cooling regime in small pockets at the edges of crystallizing magmas. Changes in the composition of a magma spark rapid changes in temperature, which cause the temporary suppression of normal crystal nucleation. As the superheated or supercooled magma returns to equilibrium temperature, crystallization occurs exclusively on pre-existing nucleation surfaces (floating xenoliths or wall rocks), creating orbicular and comb layering textures. Orbs and comb layers collected from two localities in the central Sierra Nevada Batholith were analyzed to determine 1) how they formed and 2) what their formation history reveals about the emplacement histories of their respective host plutons. Geochemical analysis including XRF, U-Pb dating and Sr-Nd and O isotope analysis was used to constrain the characteristics of the orbicular magma. Cathodoluminescence as well as macro and microscale petrography was used to determine the specific growth history of the orbs and comb layers. This study shows that orbs and comb layers from both localities formed due to superheating caused by the influx of water into the orbicular melt. Subsequent cooling was caused by mixing–induced depolymerization and fluid enrichment (Big Meadows Creek) or emplacement into a cooler host rock (Deer Creek). Both locations studied are 2–3 Ma younger than their host plutons, indicating that the processes which form orb and comb layers may cause late melting and magma remobilization in larger plutons.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.