Deformation-induced polymorphic transformation: experimental deformation of kyanite, andalusite, and sillimanite

Eric T. Goergen, Donna L. Whitney, Mark E. Zimmerman, Takehiko Hiraga

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23 Scopus citations


Torsion experiments were performed on the Al2SiO5 polymorphs in the sillimanite stability field to determine basic rheological characteristics and the effect of deformation on polymorphic transformation. The experiments resulted in extensive transformation of andalusite and kyanite to sillimanite. No transformation occurred during the hot-press (no deformation) stage of sample preparation, which was carried out at similar P-T conditions and duration as the torsion experiments. Experiments were conducted on fine-grained (< 15 μm) aggregates of natural andalusite, kyanite and sillimanite at 1250 °C, 300 MPa, and a constant shear strain rate of 2 × 10- 4/s to a maximum shear strain of 400%. Electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD) analysis of the experiments revealed development of lattice-preferred orientations, with alignment of sillimanite and andalusite [001] slightly oblique to the shear plane. The kyanite experiment could not be analyzed using EBSD because of near complete transformation to sillimanite. Very little strain (∼ 30%) is required to produce widespread transformation in kyanite and andalusite. Polymorphic transformation in andalusite and kyanite experiments occurred primarily along 500 μm wide shear bands oriented slightly oblique and antithetic to the shear plane and dominated by sub-μm (100-150 nm) fibrolitic sillimanite. Shear bands are observed across the entire strain field preserved in the torsion samples. Scanning transmission electron microscope imaging shows evidence for transformation away from shear bands; e.g. fibrolitic rims on relict andalusite or kyanite. Relict grains typically have an asymmetry that is consistent with shear direction. These experimental results show that sillimanite is by far the weakest of the polymorphs, but no distinction can yet be made on the relative strengths of kyanite and andalusite. These observations also suggest that attaining high bulk strain energy in strong materials such as the Al2SiO5 polymorphs is not necessary for triggering transformation. Strain energy is concentrated along grain boundaries, and transformation occurs by a dynamic recrystallization type process. These experiments also illustrate the importance of grain-size sensitive creep at high strains in a system with simultaneous reaction and deformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-35
Number of pages13
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jun 27 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by a University of Minnesota Grant-In-Aid of Research to DLW and MEZ, and benefited greatly from discussions with David Kohlstedt and Christian Teyssier. This communication was greatly improved by the comments and suggestions of two anonymous reviewers and editor J.-P. Burg.

Copyright 2011 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • AlSiO
  • Andalusite
  • Deformation
  • Kyanite
  • Polymorphic transformation
  • Sillimanite
  • Torsion


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