Abstract: Homogeneous and heterogeneous phase relationships in the alkali feldspars are reviewed, and behaviour diagrams developed. Al,Si ordering is almost certainly continuous and higher order in both albite and potassium feldspar and has been established reversibly or nearly so down to below 500°C in albite and possibly to ∼ 200°C in potassium feldspar. The degree of order in intermediate albite changes strongly over a range of ∼ 75–150°C depending on pressure, low albite being stable up to about 620–650°C and high albite above about 725°C at low pressure. Symmetry is broken at ∼ 980°C mainly by a cooperative shearing of the whole framework and not by Al,Si ordering alone; there is a thermal crossover near 700°C shearing being dominant above (high albite) and ordering dominant below (intermediate albite).
In potassium feldspar symmetry is broken by Al,Si ordering at a temperature of about 500°C The change in degree of order with respect to temperature has been followed easily and reversibly in sanidine from ∼ 1075 to ∼ 550°C and to a lesser extent in microcline from 450 to 200°C. Ordering rates in sanidine down to 500°C and ordering rates in microcline between 450 and 200°C are almost as fast as in albite. Ordering in sanidine at 500°C and below slows and then stops with the development of the tweed orthoclase domain texture. The tweed texture acts as a barrier to further order because the strain energy associated with the (incipient) twin domain texture balances or nearly balances the free energy decrease resulting from ordering. Ordering stops not because of the kinetics of Al,Si diffusion, but because the total driving force is very small or nil. Ordering can readily proceed to completion, with the formation of low microcline, only if the domain-texture barrier is overcome by processes involving fluids or strong external stresses. There is no barrier in albite.
The symmetry-breaking process in alkali feldspar changes with composition from mainly shearing in albite to ordering in potassium feldspar. Symmetry is broken equally at a compositional crossover (metastable with respect to exsolution) near Ab80-75 at low pressure and progressively displaced towards Or at higher pressures. Ordering in pure albite occurs by a (nearly) one-step path which progressively becomes two-step with substitution of Or. Diagrams showing the near-equilibrium variation of the order parameters at low pressure with composition and T are given, as well as two extreme phase and behaviour diagrams for complete coherent and complete incoherent (strain-free) relationships. These diagrams can be used to understand feldspar relationships and microtextures in hypersolvus and subsolvus rocks, the occurrence of orthoclase, and of intermediate and low microcline.