A Natural Example of the Disequilibrium Breakdown of Biotite at High Temperature: TEM Observations and Comparison with Experimental Kinetic Data

A. J. Brearley*
Department of Geology, The University, Manchester M13 9PL
*Present address: Institute of Meteoritics, Dept. of Geology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87131, USA.

Abstract: Transmission electron microscopy has been used to investigate the mechanism of natural biotite breakdown under pyrometamorphic disequilibrium conditions. Biotite in a xenolith of pelitic gneiss collected from a Tertiary dolerite sill, Isle of Mull, Scotland, shows evidence of an incipient reaction, characterised by a darkening in colour and the appearance of areas of fine-grained reaction products. TEM and analytical electron microscope data show that the reaction can be described as: Fe-Al biotite → Mg-Al biotite + magnetite + hercynitic spinel + K-feldspar/melt + vapour.

The orientations of the product phase are controlled by the crystallography of the reacting biotite, demonstrating that the transformation proceeds by a topotactic mechanism. An empirical method, based on the Mg/(Fe2+ + Fe3+) ratios of coexisting spinel and biotite from experimental data, is used to deduce that the reaction occurred above ∼ 770 °C. A comparison of the natural reaction microstructures with those produced experimentally suggest that the xenolith was probably above 800 °C for less than 48 hours and cooled to temperatures of 770 °C after ∼ 150–200 hours.

Keywords: transmission electron microscopy • biotite • pyrometamorphism

Mineralogical Magazine; March 1987 v. 51; no. 359; p. 93-106; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1987.051.359.09
© 1987, The Mineralogical Society
Mineralogical Society (www.minersoc.org)