Cation diffusion in aluminosilicate garnets: experimental determination in spessartine-almandine diffusion couples, evaluation of effective binary diffusion coefficients, and applications

Sumit Chakraborty, Jibamitra Ganguly

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We present new experimental data on diffusion of divalent cations in almandine-spessartine diffusion couples in graphite capsules in the P-T range of 14-35 kb, 1100-1200° C. The tracer diffusion coefficients of the major divalent cations, viz. Fe, Mg and Mn, retrieved from the multicomponent diffusion profiles, have been combined with earlier data from our laboratory at 29-43 kb, 1300-1480° C (Loomis et al. 1985) to derive expressions of the P-T dependence of the diffusion coefficients at fO2 approximately corresponding to that defined by equilibrium in the system graphite-O2. We review the conditions, discussed earlier by Cooper, under which the flux of a component in a multicomponent system becomes proportional to its concentration gradient (Fickian diffusion), as if the entire solvent matrix behaves as a single component, and also suggest a method of incorporating the thermodynamic effect on diffusion in the same spirit. Regardless of the magnitude or sign of the off-diagonal terms of the D matrix, it is always possible to define an effective binary diffusion coefficient (EBDC) of a component in a semi-infinite multicomponent diffusion-couple experiment such that it has the property of the Fickian diffusion coefficient, provided that there is no inflection on the diffusion profiles. It is shown that the success of Elphick et al. in fitting the experimental diffusion profiles of all components over a limited concentration range by a single diffusion coefficient is due to fortuitous similarity of the EBDCs of the components (Fe, Mg, Mn and Ca) in their diffusion couple experiments. In common metapelitic garnets showing compositional zoning, the EBDCs of the divalent cations do not differ from each other by more than a factor of 2.5. However, the EBDC of a component changes from core to rim by a factor of 3 to 12, depending on the composition. We suggest a method of volume averaging of the EBDC which should prove useful in approximate calculations of diffusion flux during relaxation of compositional zoning. The EBDC of Mn is found to reduce essentially to DMnMn, the main diagonal term of the D matrix, and consequently can be calculated quite easily. Evaluation of EBDC of Fe, Mg and Mn in garnets from a prograde Barrovian sequence did not reveal any significant dependence on the extent of relaxation of garnet. The diffusion data have been applied to calculate the cooling rate of natural biotite-garnet diffusion couple from eastern Finland and diffusional modification of growth zoning in garnet in early Proterozoic Wopmay orogen, Canada. The results are in good agreement with geochronological and other independent constraints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)74-86
Number of pages13
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 1992


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology

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