Mineral distribution in a previously undescribed contact aureole in siliceous dolomite at Teakettle Junction, Death Valley National Park (California, USA), was mapped with a handheld visible and near-infrared (Vis-NIR, 0.35–2.5 μm) spectrometer. With increasing distance from a small Jurassic(?) pluton, the following mineral zones occur: periclase (hydrated to brucite), forsterite (variably hydrated to serpentine and typically accompanied by clinohumite), tremolite, and talc. Airborne Vis-NIR imaging spectrometer data with 5 m ground resolution shows serpentine and tremolite distribution in close agreement with the field data. Field measurements show dolomite and calcite throughout the study area, along with minor amounts of phlogopite and illite. Hydrous minerals were detected in field measurements at levels on the order of 1 vol%. Phlogopite, talc, and illite crystals in many samples are <20 μm in size and difficult to identify without scanning electron microscopy examination. Sensitivity of Vis-NIR spectroscopy to hydrous minerals is especially important in the context of metamorphic fluid flow. Significant hydration of wall rocks is limited to samples between the pluton contact and the serpentine (forsterite) isograd as shown by mineral distribution and variation in the depth of the OH absorption feature near 1.4 μm. This boundary is interpreted to represent a metamorphic hydration front beyond which there was minimal infiltration of wall rocks by H2O-rich fluid. Within this zone of hydration, however, the extent of hydration is highly variable, even at individual sample sites with samples spaced on the order of 1 m or less. Heterogeneity of fluid-rock interaction at this scale must be considered in models of heat and mass transfer accompanying contact metamorphism.

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