Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 158, Issue 1, pp 37–51 | Cite as

Graphite morphologies from the Borrowdale deposit (NW England, UK): Raman and SIMS data

  • J. F. Barrenechea
  • F. J. LuqueEmail author
  • D. Millward
  • L. Ortega
  • O. Beyssac
  • M. Rodas
Original Paper


Graphite in the Borrowdale (Cumbria, UK) deposit occurs as large masses within mineralized pipe-like bodies, in late graphite–chlorite veins, and disseminated through the volcanic host rocks. This occurrence shows the greatest variety of crystalline graphite morphologies recognized to date from a single deposit. These morphologies described herein include flakes, cryptocrystalline and spherulitic aggregates, and dish-like forms. Colloform textures, displayed by many of the cryptocrystalline aggregates, are reported here for the first time from any graphite deposit worldwide. Textural relationships indicate that spherulitic aggregates and colloform graphite formed earlier than flaky crystals. This sequence of crystallization is in agreement with the precipitation of graphite from fluids with progressively decreasing supersaturation. The structural characterization carried out by means of Raman spectroscopy shows that, with the exception of colloform graphite around silicate grains and pyrite within the host rocks, all graphite morphologies display very high crystallinity. The microscale SIMS study reveals light stable carbon isotope ratios for graphite (δ 13C = −34.5 to −30.2‰), which are compatible with the assimilation of carbon-bearing metapelites in the Borrowdale Volcanic Group magmas. Within the main mineralized breccia pipe-like bodies, the isotopic signatures (with cryptocrystalline graphite being lighter than flaky graphite) are consistent with the composition and evolution of the mineralizing fluids inferred from fluid inclusion data which indicate a progressive loss of CO2. Late graphite–chlorite veins contain isotopically heavier spherulitic graphite than flaky graphite. This agrees with CH4-enriched fluids at this stage of the mineralizing event, resulting in the successive precipitation of isotopically heavier graphite morphologies. The isotopic variations of the different graphite morphologies can be attributed therefore, to changes in the speciation of carbon in the fluids coupled with concomitant changes in the XH2O during precipitation of graphite and associated hydrous minerals (mainly epidote and chlorite).


Graphite Morphology Raman Carbon isotopes Borrowdale 



Access to the Edinburgh Ion Microprobe Facility through N.E.R.C. Scientific services is gratefully acknowledged. We thank John Craven for his expertise, interest and support. Dr. L. Fernández-Díaz is also thanked for helpful suggestions about the mechanisms of nucleation and growth. Technical assistance by E. Baldonedo (Centro de Microscopía Electrónica Luis Bru, UCM) during SEM work is also gratefully acknowledged. This paper is a contribution from project CGL2006-00835 of the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation. David Millward publishes with the permission of the Executive Director, British Geological Survey (N.E.R.C.). This study was partly funded by INSU DyETI and ANR JC (GeoCarbons project) to Olivier Beyssac. The authors thank B. Wopenka for thorough review and helpful comments and J. L. R. Touret for editorial handling.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. F. Barrenechea
    • 1
  • F. J. Luque
    • 1
    Email author
  • D. Millward
    • 2
  • L. Ortega
    • 1
  • O. Beyssac
    • 3
  • M. Rodas
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento Cristalografía y Mineralogía, Facultad de GeologíaUniversidad Complutense de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.British Geological SurveyEdinburghUK
  3. 3.Laboratoire de GéologieCNRSParisFrance

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