Alumino-silicate speciation in aqueous fluids at deep crustal conditions

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Mainak Mookherjee, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, United States, Hans Keppler, Bayerisches Geoinstitut, Universitaet Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany and Craig E Manning, Univ California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States
Alumina and silica are major oxides in most crustal rocks. While SiO2 is quite soluble in aqueous fluids at metamorphic conditions, behavior of Al2O3 in crustal metamorphic fluids has been poorly understood. It is known that alumina is dramatically less soluble in aqueous fluids and hence it is difficult to explain the common occurrence of quartz with aluminous minerals in metamorphic veins. In order to understand this complex behavior of alumina, we investigated aluminum speciation in aqueous fluids in equilibrium with corundum using in situ Raman spectroscopy in hydrothermal diamond anvil cells to 20 kbar and 1000 oC. In order to better understand the spectral features of the aqueous fluids, we used first principles simulations based on density functional theory to calculate and predict the energetics and vibrational spectra for various aluminum species that are likely to be present in aqueous solutions. The Raman spectra of pure water in equilibrium with Al2O3 are devoid of any characteristic spectral features. In contrast, aqueous fluids with KOH solution in equilibrium with Al2Oshow a sharp band at ~620 cm-1 which could be attributed to the [Al(OH)4]1- species. The band grows in intensity with temperature along an isochore. In the limited pressure, temperature and density explored in the present study, we do not find any evidence for the polymerization of the [Al(OH)4]1- species to dimers [(OH)2-Al-O2-Al(OH)2]2- or [(OH)3-Al-O-Al(OH)3]2-. This is likely due to the relatively low concentration of Al in the solutions and does not rule out significant polymerization at higher pressures and temperatures. We are also investigating the effect of SiO2 on the solubility of Al2O3 and the relative energetics of formation of pure alumina dimer [(OH)3-Al-O-Al(OH)3]2- vs. the aluminosilicate dimers, [(OH)3-Al-O-Si(OH)3]2- at deep crustal conditions.

Acknowledgement- MM is supported by the US National Science Foundation grant (EAR-1250477).