Crack healing as a function of pOH- and fracture morphology
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Crack healing in quartz has been investigated by optical microscopy and interferometry of rhombohedral ( 1 1 10 ) cracks in polished Brazilian quartz prisms that were annealed hydrothermally at temperatures of 250°C and 400°C for 2.4 to 240 hours, fluid pressure Pf = Pc = 41 MPa, and varying pOH- (from 5.4 to 1.2 at 250°C for fluids consisting of distilled water and NaOH solutions with molalities up to 1). Crack morphologies before and after annealing were recorded for each sample in plane light digital images. Crack apertures were determined from interference fringes recorded using transmitted monochromatic light (l = 598 nm). As documented in previous studies, crack healing is driven by reductions in surface energy and healing rates are governed by diffusional transport; sharply defined crack tips become blunted and split into fluid- filled tubes and inclusions. A rich variety of fluid inclusion geometries are also observed with nonequilibrium shapes that depend on initial surface roughness. Crack healing is significant at T=400°C. Crack healing is also observed at T=250°C for smooth cracks with apertures <0.6 mm or cracks subject to low pOH-. The extent of crack healing is sensitive to crack aperture and to hackles formed by fine-scale crack branching during earlier crack growth. Crack apertures appear to be controlled by hackles and debris, which prop the crack surfaces open. Upon annealing, crack apertures are reduced, and these reduced crack apertures govern the kinetics of diffusional crack healing that follows. Hackles are sites of either enhanced or reduced loss of fluid-solid interface, depending on slight mismatches and sense of twist on opposing crack surfaces. Hackles are replaced either by healed curvilinear quartz bridges and river patterns surrounded by open fluid-filled crack, or by fluid- filled tubes surrounded by regions of healed quartz. For a given temperature, aperture and anneal time, crack healing is enhanced at low pOH- ( £ 1.2) either because of changes in the hydroxylated quartz- fluid interface that enhance reaction rates or because of increased rates of diffusional net transport of silica at high silica concentrations.
Fallon, Jessica Anne (2004). Crack healing as a function of pOH- and fracture morphology. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from