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Part II - Core 3 Petrology

Reading List - Option 3 (2016)


Reading list for Tim Holland - Metamorphic topics, 6 Lectures

General reading

  • A Philpotts and J Ague. ‘Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology’.
  • R Vernon and G Clarke. ‘Principles of Metamorphic Petrology’.

Schreinemakers/projections (1 & 2)

  • Nordstrom & Munoz. 1985. ‘Geochemical thermodynamics’. Chapter 4. (good intro)
  • Yardley, B. 1989. ‘An introduction to metamorphic petrology’. Appendix. (basic intro)
  • Spear 1993. ‘Metamorphic phase equilibria and pressure-temperature-time paths’. Chapters 5,8.
  • Philpotts and Ague. ‘Principles of Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology’. Chapter 8.

Pelites (1 & 2)

Mixed volatile equilibria (3)

Granulite facies (4 & 5)

Also a useful guide on the web from Dave Waters:

Oxidation/reduction and fluids (6)

Reading list for Marian Holness - Lectures 7- 11 Igneous Petrography

This is an introductory course on microstructures and how we can use them to interpret rock history, with particular application to igneous rocks. It is a vast subject and we can only touch on a few essential things. These general source books are a good place to look things up.

 General sources 

  • Granitic Pegmatites (2012) Elements, vol. 8, number 4. There are many interesting articles touching on issues of crystal growth.
  • Higgins, M.D. (2006) Quantitative textural measurements in igneous and metamorphic petrology. CUP. A good source if you are thinking of doing microstructural work in your Part III project
  • Kretz, R. (1994) Metamorphic Crystallisation. Wiley.
  • Tiller, W.A. (1977) On the cross-pollenation of crystallisation ideas between metallurgy and geology. Physics and Chemistry of Minerals, 2, 125-151.
  • Vernon, R.H. (2004) A practical guide to rock microstructure. CUP. £34.99. Highly recommended, especially if you are planning to do a hard-rock PhD. This book is pretty much the first place to look if you need to understand any particular microstructure.

Crystal nucleation and growth

Topics covered in this introduction include nucleation (homogenous and heterogeneous, including the effects of pore size in nucleation inhibition) and crystal growth mechanisms. The balance between nucleation and growth determines the overall grain size and grain size distribution in the rock.

Nucleation and crystal growth

 Crystal size distributions

 Pattern formation during grain growth (relevant to the first practical)

Crystal shape

In this lecture we cover the controls on crystal shape, starting with interface-controlled growth and moving onto diffusion-limited growth. The practical following the lecture gives you the opportunity to look at rocks with dendritic and spherulitic microstructures. There is also a suite of samples demonstrating the progressive metamorphism of chert nodules in dolomite, with the onset of pattern formation at olivine-grade.

The basics of diffusion-limited growth

Porter, D.A. & Easterling, K.E. (1981) Phase transformations in metals and alloys. Chapter 4 (B 30.107 or on Moodle)


 Eutectics and pegmatites

 Textural equilibrium

Once reaction is over, and if the rock is not being deformed rapidly, microstructures evolve towards a minimum energy state, in which grain shape and the topology of minor phases (such as fluid) are controlled by interfacial energies. If we know something about the relative magnitudes of interfacial energies we can make predictions about what these microstructures look like and therefore predict how fluids move through the Earth.

The practical provides the opportunity to examine microstructures from well-equilibrated environments and to develop a feel for the length- and time-scales over which interfacial energies affect microstructure.

 Theory of textural equilibrium

Applications to natural systems

  • Cheadle, M.J., Elliott, M.T. and McKenzie, D. (2004) Percolation threshold and permeability of crystallising igneous rocks: the importance of textural equilibrium. Geology, 32, 757-760.
  • Hunter, R.H. (1987) Textural equilibrium in layered igneous rocks. In: (ed. Parsons, I.) Origins of igneous layering. Dordrecht: D. Reidel. pp. 473–503.
  • Laporte, D., Rapaille, C. & Provost, A. (1997) Wetting angles, equilibrium melt geometry, and the permeability threshold of partially molten crustal protoliths. In: Granite: From segregation of melt to emplacement fabrics. (eds. Bouchez, J.-L., Hutton, D.H. & Stephens, W.E.) pp. 31-54. Kluwer Acad., Norwell, Mass.
  • Laporte, D. & Watson, E.B. (1995) Experimental and theoretical constraints on melt distribution in crustal sources: the effect of crystalline anisotropy on melt interconnectivity. Chemical Geology, 124, 161-184.
  • Minarik, W.G. & Watson, E.B. (1995) Interconnectivity of carbonate melt at low melt fraction. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 133, 423-437. 


Microstructural evolution in cumulates

This lecture shows how we can apply our understanding of nucleation and crystal growth to decoding the solidification history of plutonic rocks. We will focus primarily on large (>1000m) bodies of mafic magma, in which gravitationally-driven separation of solids from residual liquid drives fractionation. Key to understanding the processes occurring during solidification is observation of incompletely solidified material such as drillcore through lava lakes and glassy crystalline nodules.

 Physical processes in cumulates


Microstructures in cumulates and their interpretation


Layered Intrusions: Rum and Skaergaard

 This lecture provides an introduction to layered intrusions, using two end-members. The classic Skaergaard intrusion is the one that started it all (and incidentally resulted in a hiatus in our developing understanding of magma plumbing systems as it is so iconic that no-one could imagine anything looking or behaving different to Skaergaard), forming from closed-system fractionation. The Rum magma chamber was likely to have been more typical of what we imagine shallow-level magma storage immediately feeding the overlying volcano.

 The practical session will provide the opportunity to examine the classic fractionation sequence developed in the Skaergaard.