Abundant high-K calc-alkaline (HKCA) magmatism appears to be post-collisional and often shifts to shoshonitic or alkaline-peralkaline compositions in the final stages of orogeny. The nature and the causes of this transition are studied on the basis of 308 major element and of 86 unpublished trace element (including REE) analyses of the Pan-African granitoids from the Tuareg shield (Adrar des Iforas, Mali and Air, Niger). This database covers a wide variety of magmas from subduction-related to intraplate-type including abundant HKCA batholiths. Literature data from geodynamically well-constrained cases are also included. In addition to a conventional geochemical approach of the studied magmatism, the sliding normalization method is proposed. This tool aims at comparing magmatic series: each studied rock is normalized to the interpolated composition of the reference series that has the same SiO2 content as the sample. This method amplifies differences in sources and in fractionation processes and allows comparison of rocks from basic to acid composition. Two distinct juvenile sources are proposed: a previously enriched phlogopite-K richterite bearing Lithospheric mantle or a lower juvenile crustal equivalent for HKCA-shoshonitic magmas, and a lowest lithospheric-upper asthenospheric OIB-type mantle for alkaline-peralkaline magmatism, The first source is melted only shortly after its generation when the lithosphere was still hot, which restricts HKCA magmatism mainly to post-collisional settings. The second asthenospheric/lowest lithosphere source is by definition close to its melting temperature and can generate magma ubiquitously both in space and time. The main melting triggers are lithospheric major structures which are not only operative in a post-collisional setting but also in other environments such as intraplate setting. Geochemistry thus gives indications about the nature of the source and on geotectonic settings. However, the latter is a second rank information, which is partly model-dependant. The post-collisional period differs from other settings by a propensity to generate large amounts of magma of various kinds, among which HKCA magmatism is volumetrically the most prominent. (C) 1998 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.