The α-β phase transition in volcanic cristobalite
Damby, David E.
Horwell, Claire J.
Williamson, Benedict J.
Journal of Applied Crystallography
International Union of Crystallography / Wiley
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are cited.
Cristobalite is a common mineral in volcanic ash produced from dome-forming eruptions. Assessment of the respiratory hazard posed by volcanic ash requires understanding the nature of the cristobalite it contains. Volcanic cristobalite contains coupled substitutions of Al(3+) and Na(+) for Si(4+); similar co-substitutions in synthetic cristobalite are known to modify the crystal structure, affecting the stability of the α and β forms and the observed transition between them. Here, for the first time, the dynamics and energy changes associated with the α-β phase transition in volcanic cristobalite are investigated using X-ray powder diffraction with simultaneous in situ heating and differential scanning calorimetry. At ambient temperature, volcanic cristobalite exists in the α form and has a larger cell volume than synthetic α-cristobalite; as a result, its diffraction pattern sits between ICDD α- and β-cristobalite library patterns, which could cause ambiguity in phase identification. On heating from ambient temperature, volcanic cristobalite exhibits a lower degree of thermal expansion than synthetic cristobalite, and it also has a lower α-β transition temperature (∼473 K) compared with synthetic cristobalite (upwards of 543 K); these observations are discussed in relation to the presence of Al(3+) and Na(+) defects. The transition shows a stable and reproducible hysteresis loop with α and β phases coexisting through the transition, suggesting that discrete crystals in the sample have different transition temperatures.
Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation
Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)
Vol. 47 (4), pp. 1205 - 1215