Diffusion of 40Ar in metamorphic hornblende

Suzanne L. Baldwin, T. Mark Harrison, John D.Fitz Gerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Isothermal, hydrothermal experiments were performed on two compositionally contrasting hornblendes from amphibolites in order to examine Ar diffusion behavior in metamorphic hornblendes. Ten experiments on sample RF were performed at temperatures of 750°C, 800°C, and 850°C and pressures of 1 kbar using measured grain radii of 158, 101, and 34 μm. Eight experiments on sample 118576 were performed under the same conditions using measured grain radii of 145, 77, and 25 μm. Minor (<5%) alteration was observed in high temperature runs. Diffusion coefficients were calculated from measured radiogenic 40Ar loss following treatment assuming a spherical geometry for the mineral aggregate. Diffusivities calculated for different grain sizes vary by up to an order of magnitude for a given temperature indicating that the effective diffusion radius was less than the measured grain radius. Diffusivities for RF and 118576 calculated for grain radii of 101 and 145 μm, respectively, form a linear array on an Arrhenius diagram with slopes indicating activation energies of ∼ 60 kcal/mol. No correlation between Mg number (100 Mg/(Mg+Fe)) and activation energy was observed. Diffusivities calculated for these experiments are higher than previously reported results from similar experiments performed on hornblendes. A comparison of results for 34 μm splits from these two studies indicates higher apparent diffusivities (by a factor of 5), which probably result from observed phyllosilicate inter-growths (chlorite) and/or exsolution lamellae that partition the metamorphic hornblendes into smaller subdomains. Diffusivities calculated for experiments performed on 65 μm and 34 μm splits of 40Ar/39Ar standard MMhb-1 at 800°C and 1 kbar are consistent with a previously reported activation energy of 65 kcal/mol. Arrhenius parameters which emerge from the empirical model of Fortier and Giletti (1989) agree with experimental results to within analytical uncertainty. Although results of these experiments support previously reported estimates of the activation energy of 40Ar in hornblende (∼60 kcal/mol), phyllosilicate intergrowths and/or microstructures such as exsolution lamellae within the two metamorphic hornblendes result in extremely small diffusion domains, which may lead to lower Ar retentivities and lower closure temperatures. The effective diffusion dimension for 40Ar in hornblende is not likely to be defined by dislocations but rather by some larger structure within the crystal. TEM and SEM studies may provide some insight into the effective diffusion dimension for 40Ar in amphiboles, thereby enabling better estimates of closure temperatures and more precise temperature-time reconstructions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)691-703
Number of pages13
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1990
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


Dive into the research topics of 'Diffusion of 40Ar in metamorphic hornblende'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this