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Crystal Structures as Geobarometers

Kent Ratajeski
,
Montana State University
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Summary

In this exercise, designed for undergraduate igneous petrology or advanced mineralogy courses, students download a series of crystal structures from the American Mineralogist Crystal Structure Database to explore the crystal-chemical basis that allows the clinopyroxene crystal structure to be used as a geobarometer.

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Context

Audience

mid to upper level undergraduate petrology course

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

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Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

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Description of the activity/assignment

This exercise is based on the recent formulation of a geobarometer based on the crystal structure of clinopyroxene (Nimis, 1995; 1998; 1999). This method relates structural parameters (e.g., the volumes of the unit cell and the M1 polyhedron) to the pressure at which the mineral crystallizes within basic and ultrabasic magmas.

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Supporting references/URLs

The problem set can be found at Crystal Structures as Geobarometers. This site provides a tutorial with step by step instructions on how to find, download and render the data to emulate findings reported by Nimis (1995, 1998, and 1999).

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