Nanoscale chemical characterisation of phase separation, solid state transformation, and recrystallization in feldspar and maskelynite using atom probe tomography

  • L. F. WhiteEmail author
  • T. V. Kizovski
  • K. T. Tait
  • B. Langelier
  • L. M. Gordon
  • D. Harlov
  • N. Norberg
Original Paper


The feldspar minerals occur in a wide variety of lithologies throughout the Solar System, often containing a variety of chemical and structural features indicative of the crystallization conditions, cooling history and deformational state of the crystal. Such phenomena are often poorly resolved in micrometre-scale analyses. Here, atom probe tomography (APT) is conducted on Ca-rich (bytownite) and Na-rich (albite) plagioclase reference materials, experimentally exsolved K-feldspar (sanidine), shock-induced plagioclase glass (labradorite-composition), and shocked and recrystallized plagioclase to directly test the application of APT to feldspar and yield new insights into crystallographic features such as amorphisation and exsolution. Undeformed plagioclase reference materials (Amelia albite and Stillwater bytownite) appear chemically homogenous, and yield compositions largely within uncertainty of published data. Within microstructurally complex materials, APT can resolve chemical variations across a ~ 20 nm wide exsolution lamella and define major element (Na, K) diffusion profiles across the lamella boundaries, which appear gradational over a ~ 10 nm length scale in experimentally exsolved K-feldspar NNPP-04b. The plagioclase glass within the Zagami shergottite shows no heterogeneity in the distribution of major elements, although the enrichment of Fe, Mg and Sr in the bulk microtip points to at least minor incorporation of surrounding phases (pyroxene), and with that supports a shock-melt origin for the glass (maskelynite). The recrystallization of feldspar during post-shock annealing, such as in poikilitic shergottite NWA 6342, appears to induce a range of chemical nanostructures that locally effect the composition of the material. These findings demonstrate the ability of APT to yield new insights into nanoscale composition and chemical structures of alumniosilicate phases, highlighting an exciting new avenue with which to analyse these key rock-forming minerals.


Feldspar Maskelynite Atom probe tomography Exsolution lamella Nanoscale 



L.F.W. acknowledges a Hatch postdoctoral fellowship. Atom probe tomography of Martian samples was facilitated by an NSERC Discovery Grant awarded to K.T.T. APT of albite, bytownite and exsolved K-feldspar were performed at EMSL, a national scientific user facility sponsored by the Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research, located at PNNL. PNNL is a multi-program national laboratory operated for the US Department of Energy by Battelle under Contract DE-AC05-76RL01830. L.M.G was supported by an EMSL Wiley Postdoctoral Fellowship. We thank D. Perea for collection of BSE images of the Stillwater Bytownite and Amelia Albite. The authors acknowledge the facilities, scientific and technical assistance from the Canadian Centre for Electron Microscopy (CCEM) at McMaster University, a national facility supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation under the Major Science Initiative program, NSERC and McMaster University. Desmond Moser and Ivan Barker are thanked for collecting backscatter images of NWA 6342. We thank E. Slaby and L. Daly for constructive reviews, which substantially improved this manuscript, and O. Müntener for editorial handling.

Supplementary material (24.8 mb)
Supplementary Video S1: Atom probe specimen R31_5290 of experimentally exsolved K-feldspar. ~360°; rotation about the Z-axis of reconstructed atom probe data showing individual K cations. A 4% Na isosurface is shown to highlight the 3D extent of the exsolution lamella (MOV 25402 KB)
410_2018_1516_MOESM2_ESM.png (958 kb)
Supplementary Figure S1: Petrological and backscatter electron (BSE) images for the Amelia Albite and Stillwater Bytownite reference materials. The location of the atom probe lift-out for these samples is highlighted by a white star in both BSE images (PNG 957 KB)
410_2018_1516_MOESM3_ESM.png (34 kb)
Supplementary Table S1: Silica (Si) isotope abundances for all atom probe analyses incorporated into this study. The natural abundances of 28Si, 29Si and 30Si are presented for reference, while the isotopic composition of Si is reported for both double (Si2+) and triple (Si3+) charge states for each microtip specimen. Analytical conditions (pulse rate (kHz)) and laser energy (pJ) are also reported for each analysis. Generally, Si measured in the double-charged state (Si2+) yields isotopic compositions most comparable to natural abundances (PNG 33 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Natural HistoryRoyal Ontario MuseumTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Canadian Centre for Electron MicroscopyMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  4. 4.Environmental Molecular Sciences LaboratoryPacific Northwest National LaboratoryRichlandUSA
  5. 5.GeoForschungsZentrum Potsdam TelegrafenbergPotsdamGermany
  6. 6.Department of GeologyUniversity of JohannesburgAuckland ParkSouth Africa

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