Internal Weathering in Quartz Grains

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While most research on quartz weathering has focused primarily on surface textures and morphologies, very little is known about the internal weathering of quartz. This study demonstrates that internal weathering is ubiquitous in quartz. Internal weathering is measured in terms of porosity, which represents mass loss from the quartz grain, hence silica lost through dissolution. Mass loss calculated from porosity suggests higher-than-expected rates of quartz dissolution in the terrestrial environment. Internal weathering occurs through various grain defects, and is classified into several forms (in decreasing order of frequency): fractures, enlarged grain boundaries, holes, and networks. These features may be distinguished from occasional artifact voids left by laboratory procedures. The most intensely weathered grains exhibit large fractures and extensive networks, and occasionally contain secondary weathering products within the void areas. The presence of internal weathering in quartz supports field and laboratory observations of particle comminution in sediment transport systems, and can account for at least part of the production of silt- and clay-sized quartz. Given the potentially large surface area afforded by these internal defects, internal weathering plays an important role in the generation of quartz particles and dissolved silica, and presents a new avenue of study for the generation of secondary porosity in detrital sediments.



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