Skeletal crystals are hollow crystals that develop because their outer walls grow before their cores. The presence of skeletal crystals of calcite (three types--trigonal prisms, hexagonal prisms, and plates) and trona in hot (>90 degrees C) spring deposits in New Zealand (Waikite Springs and Ohaaki Pool) and Kenya (Lorusio hot springs) shows that they can form in natural sedimentary regimes. Analysis of samples from these deposits shows that this crystal morphology develops under disequilibrium conditions that are unrelated to a specific environmental or diagenetic setting. Skeletal crystals transform into solid crystals when subsequent precipitation fills their hollow cores. In some cases, this may involve precipitation of crystalline material that has a sieve-like texture. In other examples, the skeletal crystal provides a framework upon which other materials can be precipitated. Some of the skeletal hexagonal calcite crystals from New Zealand, for example, are thinly coated with amorphous silica. Walls in the skeletal trigonal calcite prisms from Waikite Springs are formed of subcrystals that mimic the shape of the parent crystal. Similarly, plate-like skeletal crystals from Lorusio are formed of densely packed subcrystals that are less than 0.5 micro m long. Conversely, the walls of the skeletal hexagonal calcite crystals from Ohaaki Pool and the skeletal trona crystals from Lorusio are not formed of subcrystals. Recognition of skeletal crystals is important because they represent growth that follows the reverse pattern of normal growth. Failure to recognize that crystal growth followed the skeletal motif may lead to false interpretations concerning the growth of a crystal. For example, the standard interpretation of zoned crystals using the a priori assumption that growth proceeded from the crystal core to the crystal face cannot always be used.

First Page Preview

First page PDF preview
You do not currently have access to this article.