Abstract

Complex calcite crystals are an integral component of precipitates that form around the orifices of the Loburu and Mawe Moto hot springs on the shores of Lake Bogoria, Kenya. Two types of large (up to 4 cm long) noncrystallographic dendrites are important components of these deposits. Feather dendrites are characterized by multiple levels of branching with individual branches developed through crystal splitting and spherulitic growth. Scandulitic (from Latin meaning "shingle") dendrites are formed of stacked calcite crystals and are generally more compact than feather dendrites. These developed through the incremental stacking of rectangular-shaped calcite crystals that initially grew as skeletal crystals. Feather and scandulitic dendrites precipitated from the same waters in the same springs. The difference in morphology is therefore related to microenvironments in which they grew. Feather dendrites grew in any direction in pools of free-standing water provided that they were in constant contact with the solute. Conversely, scandulitic dendrites grew on rims of dams where water flowed over the surface in concert with the pulses of spring water. Thus, each calcite crystal in these dendrites represents one episode of crystal growth. The orientation of the component crystals in scandulitic dendrites is controlled by the topography of the dam or surface, not crystallographic criteria. The noncrystallographic dendrites formed from spring waters with initial temperatures of 90-99 degrees C. Surficial water cooling, loss of CO 2 , and presence of other elements that can interfere with crystal growth contributed to the formation of these unusual crystals.

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