Triple-Chain Pyriboles in Lewisian Ultramafic Rocks

G. T. R. Droop
Department of Geology, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, U.K.

Abstract: The triple-chain pyriboles jimthompsonite, clinojimthompsonite, and probably chesterite and its monoclinic polytype occur in Lewisian amphibolite-facies ultramafic rocks near Achmelvich, N.W. Scotland. These minerals are intergrown with one another and with amphiboles in prismatic porphyroblasts up to 3 cm long, which are associated with chlorite, carbonate, magnetite and, in some cases, talc. Rocks containing triple-chain silicates have been found at three localities, in each case outcropping in a layer < 1.5 m thick. Clinojimthompsonite is the most abundant triple-chain silicate and generally forms euhedral wedge-shaped overgrowths, measuring up to 1 mm in the b-axis direction, on the {010} faces of actinolite cores. The mineral assemblages are probably of Inverian age.

The identification of the triple-chain phases is based mainly on cleavage angle, extinction angle, backscattered electron intensity and, in the case of clinojimthompsonite, on X-ray diffraction data. Microprobe analyses support the identifications. The triple-chain silicates have compositions lying in the system MgO-FeO-SiO2-H2O, with only trace amounts of other components.

The cell dimensions of the coarsest clinojimthompsonite are: a = 9.862 ± 0.002 Å, b = 27.184 ± 0.020 Å, c = 5.298 ± 0.004 Å, β = 109.61° ± 0.14° V = 1337.9 ± 1.8 Å3, and its optical properties are as follows: α = 1.600 β = 1.619 γ = 1.628 (all ± 0.001) and optic axial plane = (010). The 2Vα of clinojimthompsonite = 67 ±2°

Back-scattered electron microscopy reveals that although substantial volumes of single-phase clinojimthompsonite are common, (010) intergrowths of Mg,Fe-amphiboles, jimthompsonite polytypes and chesterite polytypes occur locally on scales down to 0.1 µm and probably smaller, indicating considerable chain-width disorder.

The triple-chain pyriboles are not pseudomorphous after amphibole and probably grew during prograde Inverian metamorphism. Chemographic constraints suggest that they could have formed from forsterite-bearing assemblages, possibly as the result of infiltration of CO2-rich fluid. Thermodynamic calculations for associated high-variance ultramafic rocks place an upper limit of c. 600–700°C on the temperature of metamorphism.

The large number of chemically similar pyriboles and their disposition within compound prisms suggests that crystallization was kinetically controlled. A simple ‘template’ model is propesed to explain the observed patterns, in which the identity of the Mg,Fe-pyribole nucleating at any point on a preexisting actinolite or Mg,Fe-pyribole substrate is controlled by silicate-chain width and/or symmetry (ortho vs. clino), depending on the orientation of the substrate crystal face.

Keywords: pyriboles • triple-chain silicates • clinojimthompsonite • jimthompsonite • BSEM • nucleation kinetics

Mineralogical Magazine; March 1994 v. 58; no. 390; p. 1-20; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1994.058.390.01
© 1994, The Mineralogical Society
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