Abstract

Dehydration of silanol and molecular water in 60 agates from 12 hosts with ages between 23 to 2717 Ma has been investigated using desiccators and high-temperature furnace heating. There are wide differences in the water data obtained under uncontrolled and fixed atmospheric water vapour pressure conditions. After agate acclimatization at 20°C and 46% relative humidity, the total water (silanol and molecular) was determined in powders and mini-cuboids by heating samples at 1200°C. Agates from hosts < 180 Ma all showed a greater mass loss using powders and demonstrate that after prolonged high-temperature heating, silanol water is partially-retained by the mini-cuboids. Desiccator dehydration of powders and slabs shows that powder preparation can produce water losses; this is particularly relevant in agates from hosts < 180 Ma. The identified problems have consequences for water quantification in agate and chalcedony using infrared or thermogravimetric techniques. Mobile and total water in agate is considered in relation to host-rock age, mogánite content and crystallite size. Links are observed between the various identified water contents allowing comment on quartz development and agate genesis. The water data also supports previous claims that agates from New Zealand and Brazil were formed long after their host.

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