Observational Evidence for a Possible New Diffusion Path

Science  04 Jan 1991:
Vol. 251, Issue 4989, pp. 67-70
DOI: 10.1126/science.251.4989.67


Transmission electron microscopy of experimentally deformed amphibolite suggests that submicroscopic intracrystalline tubes formed around linear defects may be a previously unrecognized kind of diffusion pathway. Deformed and compositionally altered plagioclase and amphibole crystals include moderate densities of linear defects that morphologically resemble unit dislocations but display unusual contrast. During prolonged electron irradiation, the core regions of the defects expand to well-defined tubes that are ∼20 nanometers in diameter. Both observations suggest that the regions about the defect cores are glassy and were filled with silicate-water fluid during the experiments. Intracrystalline transport along these tubes would likely be several orders of magnitude faster than traditionally conceived processes of solid-state volume diffusion, grain-boundary solvent transfer, and ordinary pipe diffusion along dislocation cores.