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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter January 9, 2016

Ca-Al-silicate inclusions in natural moissanite (SiC)

  • Simonpietro Di Pierro EMAIL logo and Edwin Gnos
From the journal American Mineralogist


Hundred-micrometer-sized calcium-aluminum-silicates (CAS) inclusions occur in moissanite-4H, moissanite-15R, and moissanite-6H from Turkey. These inclusions commonly consist of tabular exsolution lamellae of two different minerals. By combined electron microprobe and Raman spectroscopy analysis, at least eight different, essentially Mg- and Fe-free Ca-Al-silicate or Al-silicate phases have been discerned. The most common phase is dmisteinbergite, a hexagonal modification of CaAl2Si2O8, occurring in association with lamellae of Cax(Al,Si)1−xO3 or Ca1−x(Al,Si)2+xO5 compositions. All three phases contain significant amounts of BaO (up to 2 mol% of celsiane component in dmisteinbergite), SrO, SO3, and light rare earth elements (LREE). In particular, Ca1−x(Al,Si)2+xO5 contains up to 2.1 wt% of LREE, 3.9 wt% of F, and significant traces of Cl, while it is also associated to osbornite (TiN). Pure ghelenite, Ca2Al2SiO7, and three additional compositions, namely CaAl4–xSixO7, Ca1–x(Al,Si)3+xO6, and Ca3–x(Al,Si)6+xO14 have been found, either occurring as single grains or forming exsolution lamellae. They also contain significant amounts of BaO, SrO, SO3, and LREE. One last intriguing phase is composed in average of 65.9 wt% SiO2, 17.4% Al2O3, 3.0% alkalis, 6.0% BaO, 2.0% CaO+MgO, 0.9% ZrO2, and up to 0.5% LREE. Dmisteinbergite and ghelenite show Raman peaks in very good agreement with literature data, Cax(Al,Si)1–xO3 shows main Raman modes at 416 and 1009 cm−1, Ca1–x(Al,Si)3+xO6 at 531 and 1579 cm−1 while Ca3–x(Al,Si)6+xO14 has a strong peak at 553 cm−1. CaAl4–xSixO7 shows a weak Raman pattern, while Ca1–x(Al,Si)2+xO5 has no detectable Raman modes. Since the association moissanite-CAS is thermodynamically not stable at ambient pressure and moissanite crystals hosting the CAS phases have δ13C values typical of deep-mantle origin, we interpret the CAS inclusions as partially retrogressed HP minerals. Striking analogies exist between observed CAS compositions and experimentally obtained HP-HT mineralogy. For instance, Cax(Al,Si)1–xO3 contains up to 25 mol% of Al2O3, which is considered as the upper limit of alumina solubility in Ca-perovskite. The study confirms that CAS phases are an important mantle depository for large ion lithophile elements (LILE) and LREE.

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Salvatore Musacchia, the person who found the bluish pebble, is greatly acknowledged for providing the material for research. Electron-microprobe analyses at the University of Bern were supported by Schweizerischer Nationalfonds (credit 21-26579.89). Financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation Commission of the University of Fribourg (fellowship n. PBFR2-101389) to S.D.P. when he was a post-doc fellow at ENS/Lyon is greatly acknowledged. We thank Bruno Reynard, Isabelle Daniel, and Gilles Montagnac at ENS/Lyon for discussions and Raman lab assistance, and Philippe Grandjean at University Claude Bernard Lyon-1 for WDS-microprobe assistance. Jessy Gillot at Saint-Gobain Recherche is also thanked for the SEM-EDS X-ray mapping of CAS. We also thank Ed Mathez, an anonymous reviewer, and Associate Editor Daniel Hummer for their constructive reviews.

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  1. Manuscript handled by Daniel Hummer.

Received: 2015-3-22
Accepted: 2015-7-10
Published Online: 2016-1-9
Published in Print: 2016-1-1

© 2016 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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