Original paper

Evaluation of a combined HRXCT/EBSD method for detecting epitaxial nucleation of garnet porphyroblasts

Moore, Stephanie J.; Carlson, William D.


The combination of high-resolution X-ray computed tomography (HRXCT) with electron backscattered diffraction (EBSD) analysis has the potential to reveal evidence for epitaxial nucleation of garnet porphyroblasts containing an included fabric. HRXCT measures the fabric orientation near the inferred nucleation site at the crystal centre, whereas EBSD establishes the crystallographic orientation of the porphyroblast relative to the attitude of the included fabric. Using the orientation of the central fabric as a proxy for the attitudes of the basal planes of micas on which the garnet may have nucleated, one can determine if low-index planes in garnet—(100), (110), or (111)—are parallel to (001) of mica, which would correspond to known epitaxial relationships between the two minerals. We test the feasibility of this approach with a set of exploratory measurements for six garnet porphyroblasts from Passo del Sole (Switzerland) and five from the Nevado Filabride Complex (Spain); we also report unsuccessful attempts at such measurements in rocks from Harpswell Neck (USA). The results do not deviate appreciably from those expected of a set of measurements drawn from a parent population with a random distribution of orientations. However, considering the size of the present measurement uncertainties in relation to the precision required to recognize an epitaxial relationship unambiguously, it is not possible in this data set to exclude epitaxy as a nucleation mechanism. The principal limitation to this approach is the need for high precision in determining the attitude of the included fabric at the site of nucleation, which depends largely upon the choice of suitable samples. Crystals ideal for such studies would contain a non-crenulated, planar (not helicitic) foliation, defined by numerous small, well-aligned inclusions. With careful sample selection, this approach could be a viable technique for evaluating the prevalence in nature of epitaxial nucleation of garnet porphyroblasts.