Near infrared (NIR) spectra of Precambrian metagraywacke in the Black Hills, South Dakota, demonstrate that reflectance spectroscopy can be used to monitor progressive changes in mineral chemistry as a function of metamorphic grade. The wavelength of a combination Al-O-H absorption band in muscovite, measured using both laboratory and field-portable NIR spectrometers, shifts from 2217 nm in the biotite zone to 2199 nm in the sillimanite + K-feldspar zone. The band shift corresponds to an increase in the Alvi content of muscovite, determined by electron microprobe, and is thus a monitor of Al2Si-1(Fe,Mg)-1 (Tschermak) exchange. Spectroscopic measurements such as these are useful in the case of aluminum-deficient rocks, which lack metamorphic index minerals or appropriate assemblages for thermobarometric studies, and in low-grade rocks (subgarnet zone), which lack quantitative indicators of metamorphic grade and are too fine grained for petrographic or microprobe studies. More important, spectroscopic detection of mineral-chemical variations in metamorphic rocks provides petrologists with a tool to recover information on metamorphic reaction histories from high-spectral-resolution aircraft or satellite remote sensing data.

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