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Minerals 2018, 8(5), 214;

Metasomatic Replacement of Albite in Nature and Experiments

Institute of Applied Geosciences, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Adenauerring 20b, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany
Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum, Telegrafenberg, 14473 Potsdam, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 4 May 2018 / Accepted: 12 May 2018 / Published: 17 May 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineral Surface Reactions at the Nanoscale)
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Replacement of albite by sodium-rich, secondary phases is a common phenomenon, observed in different geological settings and commonly attributed to alkaline metasomatism. We investigated growth of nepheline and sodalite on albite in time series experiments between two and 14 days. A total of 42 hydrothermal experiments were performed in cold-seal hydrothermal vessels at a constant pressure of 4 kbar and 200–800 °C in the system SiO2–Al2O3–NaCl–H2O. To allow for fluid flow and material transport, a double-capsule technique was used; hereby, a perforated inner Pt capsule was filled with cleavage fragments of natural albite, whereas the shut outer Au capsule was filled with γ-Al2O3 and the NaCl–H2O solution. Complete overgrowth of albite by sodalite and nepheline occurred after just two days of experiments. At high salinity (≥17 wt % NaCl) sodalite is the stable reaction product over the whole temperature range whereas nepheline occurs at a lower relative bulk salinity than sodalite and is restricted to a high temperature of ≥700 °C. The transformation of albite starts along its grain margins, cracks or twin lamellae. Along the reaction front sodalite crystallizes as small euhedral and highly porous grains forming polycrystalline aggregates. Coarse sodalite dominates in the outermost domains of the reaction zones, suggesting recrystallization. Sodalite may contain fluid inclusions with trapped NaCl-rich brine, demonstrating that the interconnected microporosity provides excellent pathways for fluid-assisted material transport. Highly porous nepheline forms large, euhedral crystals with rectangular outline. Sodalite and nepheline in natural rock samples display only minor porosity but fluid and secondary mineral inclusions, pointing to coarsening of a previously present microporosity. The reaction interface between sodalite and albite in natural rock samples is marked by open channels in transmission electron microscopy. In many of the experiments, a zone of Si–H-rich, amorphous material is developed at the reaction front, which occurs at a temperature of up to of 750 °C as nanometer to 350 µm wide reaction zone around albite. This change in composition corresponds with the abrupt termination of the crystalline feldspar structure. The presence of sodalite as micro- to nanometer-sized, euhedral crystals within the amorphous zone demonstrates, that both the sodalite reaction rim and the amorphous material allow for fluid-assisted material transport between the crystalline albite (release of Si, Al) and the bulk fluid (H2O, Na, Cl). This texture, moreover, suggests that the amorphous phase represents a metastable interstage reaction product, which is progressively replaced by sodalite and nepheline. Remarkably, product sodalite, nepheline, and the amorphous material largely inherit the trace element budget of the respective ancestor albite, indicating that at least part of the trace elements remained fixed during the reaction process. The observed reaction textures in both natural and experimental samples indicate an interfacial dissolution–reprecipitation mechanism. Results of our study bear important implications with respect to mineral replacement in the presence of a fluid phase, especially regarding the interpretation of trace element patterns of the product phases. View Full-Text
Keywords: albite; amorphous; analcime; dissolution–precipitation; hydrothermal experiments; metasomatism; nepheline; sodalite albite; amorphous; analcime; dissolution–precipitation; hydrothermal experiments; metasomatism; nepheline; sodalite

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Drüppel, K.; Wirth, R. Metasomatic Replacement of Albite in Nature and Experiments. Minerals 2018, 8, 214.

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