Mutual replacement reactions in alkali feldspars I: microtextures and mechanisms

  • Ian ParsonsEmail author
  • Martin R. Lee
Original Paper


Intracrystal microtextures formed by a process of mutual replacement in alkali feldspars record fluid–rock reactions that have affected large volumes of the Earth’s crust. Regular, ≤1 μm-scale ‘strain-controlled’ perthitic microtextures coarsen, by up to 103, by a dissolution–reprecipitation process, producing microporous patch or vein perthites on scales >100 μm. We have developed earlier studies of such reactions in alkali feldspar cm-scale primocrysts in layered syenites from the Klokken intrusion, South Greenland. We present new hyperspectral CL, SEM images, and laser ICPMS analytical data, and discuss the mechanism of such replacement reactions. The feldspars grew as homogeneous sodic sanidines which unmixed and ordered by volume diffusion during cooling into the microcline field at ~450°C, giving regular, fully coherent ‘braid’ cryptoperthite. At ≤450°C the crystals reacted with a circulating post-magmatic aqueous fluid. The braid perthite behaved as a single reactant ‘phase’ which was replaced by two product phases, incoherent subgrains of low albite and microcline, with micropores at their boundaries. The driving force for the reactions was coherency strain energy, which was greater than the surface energy in the subgrain mosaic. The external euhedral crystal shapes and bulk major element composition of the primocrysts were unchanged but they became largely pseudomorphs composed of subgrains usually with the ‘pericline’ and ‘adularia’ habits (dominant {110} and subordinate {010} morphology) characteristic of low T growth. The subgrains have an epitactic relationship with parent braid perthite. Individual subgrains show oscillatory zoning in CL intensity, mainly at blue wavelengths, which correlates with tetrahedral Ti. Regular zoning is sometimes truncated by irregular, discordant surfaces suggesting dissolution, followed by resumption of growth giving regular zoning. Zones can be traced through touching subgrains, of both albite and microcline, for distances up to ~500 μm. At ≤340°C, the microcline subgrains underwent a third stage of unmixing to give straight lamellar film perthites with periodicities of ~1 μm, which with further cooling became semicoherent by the development of spaced misfit dislocations. Sub-grain growth occurred in fluid films that advanced through the elastically strained braid perthite crystals, which dissolved irreversibly. Braid perthite was more soluble than the strain-free subgrain mosaics which precipitated from the supersaturated solution. Some volumes of braid texture have sharp surfaces that suggest rapid dissolution along planes with low surface energies. Others have complex, diffuse boundaries that indicate a phase of coherent lamellar straightening by volume diffusion in response to strain relief close to a slowly advancing interface. Nucleation of strain-free subgrains was the overall rate-limiting step. To minimise surface energy subgrains grew with low energy morphologies and coarsened by grain growth, in fluid films whose trace element load (reflected in the oscillatory zoning) was dictated by the competitive advance of subgrains over a range of a few tens of mm. The cross-cutting dissolution surfaces suggest influxes of fresh fluid. Removal of feldspar to give 2 vol% porosity would require a feldspar:fluid ratio of ~1:26 (by wt). The late reversion to strain-controlled exsolution in microcline subgrains is consistent with loss of fluid above 340°C following depressurization of the intrusion. A second paper (Part II) describes trace element partitioning between the albite and microcline subgrains, and discusses the potential of trace elements as a low-T geothermometer.


Replacement Alkali feldspar Perthite Porosity Epitaxy Fluid–rock reaction 



The original mapping of the Klokken intrusion was carried out by the first author on behalf of Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse in 1971. The present work was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council under grant NER/A/S/2001/01099. We thank Paul Edwards and Robert Martin (Strathclyde) for their help with acquisition and interpretation of the hyperspectral CL datasets and Nicola Cayzer and Tim Ivanic (Edinburgh) for SEM work. The LA-ICPMS analyses, which are the main subject of Part II, were acquired at the Australian National University, Canberra, with the kind help of Charles Magee, Charlotte Allen and Michael Shelley.


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© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Grant Institute of Earth ScienceUniversity of EdinburghEdinburghUK
  2. 2.Department of Geographical and Earth SciencesUniversity of GlasgowGlasgowUK

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