Formation of Iddingsite Rims on Olivine: A Transmission Electron Microscope Study

Richard A. Eggleton
Department of Geology, Australian National University, G.P.O. Box 4 Canberra A.C.T. 2601, Australia

Abstract: Iddingsite rimming olivine in a basanite from the Limberg, Germany, is composed of saponite and goethite. Transmission electron microscopy of ion-thinned, oriented crystals suggests a two-stage alteration process. At first, the olivine breaks into a mosaic of 50-Å diameter {110} bounded needle-shaped domains which change to a metastable hexagonal phase having a = 3.1 Å and c = 4.6 Å, probably of close-packed, metal-oxygen octahedra. This reaction opens solution channels in the olivine which are detectable from about 20-Å diameter and are parallel to the olivine y-axis. Laths of smectite, one or two layers thick, 20 Å wide, and as much as 100 Å long parallel to their y-axis nucleate from the metastable phase and begin to fill in the solution channels. The laths orient with smectite (001) parallel to olivine (100). As the channels widen, prismatic {110} goethite crystals form directly from the metastable hexagonal phase. This first stage thus provides heterogeneous nuclei of smectite and goethite, formed epitactically and perhaps topotactically from a metastable intermediary.

In a second stage, these nuclei enlarge by deposition from solution as water migrates readily through the solution channels. A reduction in total volume allows smectite veins to form, misoriented with respect to the olivine. The reaction conserves iron, requires the addition of aluminum and water, and releases magnesium and silicon. Electron microprobe analyses of the iddingsite indicate that the smectite is saponite.

Key Words: Goethite • Iddingsite • Olivine • Saponite • Transmission electron microscopy • Weathering

Clays and Clay Minerals; February 1984 v. 32; no. 1; p. 1-11; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1984.0320101
© 1984, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)