Abstract: Plagioclase feldspar is one of the outermost minerals destroyed in the hydrothermal alteration of quartz monzonite of the Butte district, Montana. Single grains of andesine plagioclase showing varying stages of fringe alteration were selected to show the sequence of events leading from the fresh plagioclase tectosilicate to the phyllosilicate montmorillonite, and to evaluate the role of petrographically-identified allophane in the alteration process.
Replicas of fresh, incipiently, and thoroughly montmorillonitized grains reveal a complex sequence of events which may follow alternate equivalent paths. Quantitatively most important is the formation of a hobnail texture composed of sparse to dense ∼0.5 µ discoids of amorphous material on feldspar cleavage surfaces. These discoids appear to fuse laterally to form amoeboid or lobate amorphous clusters. Some assume progressively more polygonal outlines characterizing the montmorillonite morphology, or their fringes become flake-like montmorillonite which peels away in wisps from the pitted feldspar surface. Wisps may persist singly, they may form minute ropy granules, they may develop into wispy ridges, or the entire surface may convert to ragged, wispy, or compact montmorillonite. Far less commonly, plagioclase appears to develop without a discernible amorphous stage. The alternative paths are probably influenced by the chemical activity of magnesium in the system.