Abstract

Tube-in-tube experiments involving a time-dependent variation of temperature or a strong thermal gradient were conducted in order to decipher the transport and transfer of Al in a closed medium along with dilute water. Results show that the solubility and the transport of Al are controlled by the alkali availability. Starting from a mixture of kyanite + quartz + muscovite at the hot end of a thermal gradient, Al is transported toward the cold end in the form of a complex with an Al/K stoichiometry close to unity. Since more Al than alkali are released by the dissolution of muscovite, an Al-rich phase (kyanite) forms in the vicinity of the starting minerals undergoing dissolution, although Al is mobile in the system. Then, the variation of the solubility of the Al-K complex with temperature leads to the formation of muscovite (+quartz) at the cold end of the thermal gradient. A quantitative interpretation of the experimental results was carried out using data from the literature on Al speciation in dilute water. Extrapolation of the laboratory data to natural rocks suggests that the diffusion of Al is an efficient transport process under medium-grade, low- to medium-pressure conditions. Therefore, mass-transfer estimates based on mass-balance analyses postulating a fixed Al reference frame should be considered with caution. Also the high fluid to rock ratio calculated from the amount of aluminosilicates occurring in veins of medium-grade metapelites is questionable because such calculations neglect the importance of the transport of Al by diffusion.

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