Point defect populations of forsterite revealed by two-stage metastable hydroxylation experiments

  • Charles Le LosqEmail author
  • Michael C. Jollands
  • Peter M. E. Tollan
  • Rhys Hawkins
  • Hugh St. C. O’Neill
Original Paper


Hydroxylation is a method that allows “decoration” of the pre-existing point defect structure of nominally anhydrous minerals, such as olivine. We tested this method on synthetic forsterite (Fo:\({\text{Mg}}_{2} {\text{SiO}}_{4}\)) crystals. To control starting point defect structures, Fo crystals were pre-annealed at different temperatures (\(1100{-}1500\,{^\circ }{\text{C}}\)), silica activity conditions (forsterite–enstatite Fo–En and forsterite–periclase Fo–Per) and oxygen fugacity (0.21 and \(10^{-6}\) bars). Then low-temperature hydroxylation (900 °C, 1.5 GPa) of the crystals successfully allowed the decoration with protons of pre-existing point defect structures, as subsequently revealed by infrared spectroscopy. Protons are arranged in three different point defect stoichiometries in Fo, related to Mg and Si vacancies ([Mg] and [Si], respectively) as well as to a trivalent cation-associated substitution mechanism ([triv]). Over the timescale and equilibrium conditions studied, hydroxylation does not reset the point defect structure inherited from pre-anneal. The data further show that the concentrations of [Mg]-, [Si]- and [triv]-hydrated defects are function of pre-anneal silica activity and temperature. Laser-ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) analysis of the crystals revealed diffusion of Al and Fe into the crystals during the pre-annealing, a phenomenon clearly promoted at high \({\text{a}}_{{{\text{SiO}}_{2} }}\). The data confirm a very fast mechanism of Al diffusion in Fo during pre-annealing, and suggest a strong coupling between \({\text{H}}^{+}\) and \({\text{Al}}^{3+}\) during hydroxylation. Overall, they show the strong importance of \({\text{a}}_{{{\text{SiO}}_{2} }}\) and temperature in the incorporation of trace cations in forsterite, and the subsequent effects of incorporation of trace cations on Mg- and Si-related point defects in Fo. The dry point defect population of Fo is determined by interactions between the trace trivalent cations and dry Si and Mg vacancies. Without trace elements, T only has a limited effect on Mg- and Si-related point defect populations. Finally, approaching or potentially slightly exceeding the Fo–En solidus leads to strong changes in the trace element concentration and point defect population in Fo, which may be related to either partial melting or pre-melting effects.


Forsterite Infrared Hydroxylation Water Point defects Trivalent Aluminium Iron 



Funding by the ARC Laureate Fellowship FL130100066 to Hugh O’Neill is acknowledged. The authors thank one anonymous reviewer and Jed Mosenfelder for their reviews that substantially improved the manuscript. CLL thanks U. Troitzsch for XRD analysis of the buffer powders, as well as U. Faul (MIT) and I. Jackson (RSES) for helpful discussions on the present topic.

Supplementary material

410_2019_1590_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (330 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 330 kb)
410_2019_1590_MOESM2_ESM.csv (8 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (CSV 9 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Institute of Earth Sciences, Géopolis BuildingUniversity of LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  3. 3.Institut für GeologieUniversität BernBernSwitzerland
  4. 4.Ecole Normal Supérieure de LyonLyonFrance

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