Origin and Development of Flexibility in Asbestiform Fibres

M. Germine and J. H. Puffer
Geology Department, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA

Abstract: Quantitative measurement of relative flexibility have been made on amphibole fibres based on calculation of bending strain of maximally bent fibre segments. Enhanced flexibility was found to be an inverse function of fibre diameter. Asbestos is therefore a morphological entity. These conclusions are supported by consistent observations of fibre diameter/flexibility relationships in amphiboles, serpentine, and rutile. Flexibility may arise from growth of thin crystals (primary flexibility), or from crystal diameter reduction (secondary flexibility). Mechanisms for secondary flexibility in amphiboles include splitting and solution along cleavage planes. Gross morphological characteristics are a poor indicator of microscopic habit, since coarsely fibrous minerals such as picrolite antigorite may not be fibrous after particle width reduction, and secondary asbestiform fibres are often derived from minerals with a non-fibrous morphology on gross examination.

Keywords: asbestos • flexibility • fibre • tremolite • actinolite • rutile • asbestiform • carcinogenesis

Mineralogical Magazine; June 1989 v. 53; no. 371; p. 327-335; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1989.053.371.08
© 1989, The Mineralogical Society
Mineralogical Society (www.minersoc.org)