Time and Metamorphic Petrology: Calcite to Aragonite Experiments

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Science  02 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5079, pp. 110-112
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5079.110


Although the equilibrium phase relations of many mineral systems are generally well established, the rates of transformations, particularly in polycrystalline rocks, are not. The results of experiments on the calcite to aragonite transformation in polycrystalline marble are different from those for earlier experiments on powdered and single-crystal calcite. The transformation in the polycrystalline samples occurs by different mechanisms, with a different temperature dependence, and at a markedly slower rate. This work demonstrates the importance of kinetic studies on fully dense polycrystalline aggregates for understanding mineralogic phase changes in nature. Extrapolation of these results to geological time scales suggests that transformation of calcite to aragonite does not occur in the absence of volatiles at temperatures below 200°C. Kinetic hindrance is likely to extend to higher temperatures in more complex transformations.