The preservation potential of microstructures during static grain growth

M. W. Jessell, O. Kostenko, B. Jamtveit

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53 Citations (Scopus)


Grain growth simulations using the microstructure simulation system Elle have been performed in materials with a pre-existing grain shape foliation. As might be expected, the foliation is destroyed by the end of the experiment, and grain areas have increased by a factor of seven. The area of material swept by the migrating grain boundaries was monitored, and it was found that at every stage, virtually all of the grains which survived the grain growth process contain one and only one core of 'unswept' material. Remarkably these remnant unswept cores preserve a useable record of the initial grain size and the orientation of the grain shape foliation. This work suggests that, even for samples where no equivalent protolith can be found, it may be possible to see past a grain growth episode to estimate the original grain shape and grain size of the rock, and perhaps even reconstruct the grain boundary kinematics. In addition the identification of unswept cores has the potential to help unravel the evolution of grain boundary chemistry in rocks during metamorphism. As an example of a natural system showing these microstructures, we describe a peridotite from Almklovdalen, Norway. This peridotite was infiltrated by aqueous fluids at several stages during late Caledonian exhumation and retrogressive metamorphism. Grain boundary migration associated with the last of these infiltration events swept off abundant intragranular fluid inclusions in the original chlorite-peridotite. At the grain scale, microstructural mapping of the fluid inclusion rich areas shows that, as with the numerical simulations, many of the grains retain exactly one core of unswept material. Examples of other natural systems discussed include dislocation density distributions and trace element zoning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)481-491
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Metamorphic Geology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


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