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Diffusion control of garnet growth, Harpswell Neck, Maine, USA

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A detailed analysis of chemical zoning in two garnet crystals from Harpswell Neck, Maine, forms the basis of an interpretation of garnet nucleation and growth mechanisms. Garnet apparently nucleates initially on crenulations of mica and chlorite and quickly overgrows the entire crenulation, giving rise to complex two-dimensional zoning patterns depending on the orientation of the thin section cut. Contours of Ca zoning cross those of Mn, Fe and Mg, indicating a lack of equilibrium among these major garnet constituents. Zoning of Fe, Mg and Mn is interpreted to reflect equilibrium with the rock matrix, whereas Ca zoning is interpreted to be controlled by diffusive transport between the matrix and the growing crystal.

Image analysis reveals that the growth of garnet is more rapid along triple-grain intersections than along double-grain boundaries. Moreover, different minerals are replaced by garnet at different rates. The relative rate of replacement by garnet along double-grain boundaries is ordered as muscovite > chlorite > plagioclase > quartz. Flux calculations reveal that replacement is limited by diffusion of Si along double-grain boundaries to or from the local reaction site. It is concluded that multiple diffusive pathways control the bulk replacement of the rock matrix by garnet, with Si and Al transport being rate limiting in these samples.
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Keywords: diffusion; disequilibrium; garnet; growth; image analysis; kinetics; zoning

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180, USA (, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2001-02-01

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