Introduction to Mineral Equilibria

Dexter Perkins
,
University of North Dakota
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Summary

This activity features a short problem set to be used in class. It helps focus the discussion, while providing a starting point for an introduction to mineral reactions and phase diagrams.

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Context

Audience

I use this project in an undergraduate Petrology class. The class is taught in a studio format. The students form groups to do projects and work on problem sets such as this one in class. After we compare answers the solutions are used to segue into the next activity.

Skills and concepts that students must have mastered

Before the students attempt this activity, instructors should discuss the phase rule, explain what P, C and F are, detail how many degrees of freedom correspond to a reaction, describe an invariant point, etc. Students will also need some explanation about how to plot compositions on a ternary diagram.

How the activity is situated in the course

This is an introductory problem set to get students thinking about mineral equilibria. It precedes most lecturing on the subject.

Goals

Content/concepts goals for this activity

After completing this exercise, students should be able to:
-Plot mineral compositions on a ternary diagram.
-Apply the phase rule to determine how many minerals may coexist under what conditions.
-Use a phase diagram to determine the conditions where a particular minerals assemblage is stable.

Higher order thinking skills goals for this activity

The project involves visualization and extrapolation.

Other skills goals for this activity

Group work.

Description of the activity/assignment

This is short problem set to be used in class. It helps focus discussion, while providing a starting point for discussing mineral reactions and phase diagrams. Students are exposed to ternary composition diagrams and to phase diagrams. They are also introduced to the phase rule, although in quite a superficial way.

Determining whether students have met the goals

Simple-if they complete it, they have met the goals. They do not have to get the correct answers because that is what the plenary wrap-up is about.

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