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Garnet: Common Mineral

,
Uncommonly Useful
Garnet crystals are
not only beautiful, but
they can contain a vast
Ethan F. Baxter1, Mark J. Caddick 2, and Jay J. Ague3,4 storehouse of informa-
tion about the evolving
Earth. PHOTO COURTESY
1811-5209/13/0009-415$2.50 DOI: 10.2113/gselements.9.6.415 OF G EORGE R OSSMAN AND
MARK GARCIA

G
arnet is a widespread mineral in crustal metamorphic rocks, a primary and relative resistance to surface
constituent of the mantle, a detrital mineral in clastic sediments, and weathering processes, garnet is
also a common detrital phase
an occasional guest in igneous rocks. Garnet occurs in ultramafic to in the heavy-mineral fraction of
felsic bulk-rock compositions, and its growth and stability span from <300 sediments and sedimentary rocks.
to 2000 ºC and from atmospheric pressure to 25 GPa. More than merely a Finally, garnet is a useful mineral
in geoscientific inquiry and for its
constituent of these rocks, garnet possesses chemical and physical attributes role in industrial, technological,
allowing it to record, and influence, a diverse suite of tectonic, metamorphic, and societal contexts.
and mantle processes, making it uncommonly useful in geoscientific inquiry. In this issue of Elements, we
Because of its myriad colors, garnet has been used through the ages in jewelry. portray some of the richness and
More recently, nonsilicate crystals with the garnet structure have been fabri- variety of garnet, focusing on its
widespread geological occurrence
cated for sophisticated laser, magnetic, and ion-conducting technologies. (i.e. it is a common mineral) and
KEYWORDS : garnet, mantle, crust, metamorphism, geothermobarometry, its remarkably broad applications
geochronology, technology (i.e. it is uncommonly useful). The
articles in this issue provide an
appreciation of the role of garnet
GARNET IS EVERYWHERE from its place in the deep Earth, up through the crust,
The dark red crystals that frequently adorn common and to its applications in society. Wood, Kiseeva, and
mica schists are garnet (FIG. 1A). The purple-red hue that Matzen begin with a discussion of the largest reservoir
sometimes decorates the crests and troughs of wave ripples of garnet in the planet—the mantle—where the mineral
at the beach or concentrates in deep red bands and rivulets has profound influence over geodynamic and geochem-
after a winter storm is the result of millions of garnet ical processes. Caddick and Kohn outline the role of
grains (FIG. 1B). A dazzling green gemstone that might be garnet in the metamorphic rocks of the crust, including
mistaken for an emerald is really a garnet (FIG. 1D). That its use as a monitor of evolving metamorphic conditions
red woodworking sandpaper on the workbench and the and underlying tectonic processes. Baxter and Scherer
red side of a common “emery” board are covered with discuss the growing field of garnet geochronology, whose
garnet grains (FIG. 1F). Garnet has even been documented temporal resolution permits us to know more than just
in meteorites (e.g. Krot et al. 1998) and in association with “when” garnet grows (and the timing of processes that
microbial life (Ménez et al. 2012). Indeed, garnet is one of may be linked to it), but also “how fast” and “for how
the best-known minerals in the Earth and is particularly long.” Ague and Carlson showcase the use of garnet
notable for its commonality in a wide range of environ- crystals to constrain the kinetics of metamorphic processes,
ments, from igneous and metamorphic to sedimentary, such as mineral nucleation, the approach to equilibrium,
from the mantle to the crust, and from nature to industry. and thermal evolution. Geiger reviews how garnet crystal
Most of Earth’s garnet occurs as a primary ingredient of the chemistry and structure give rise to macroscopic properties,
upper mantle. However, with the exception of xenoliths including those that have driven technological applica-
and scarce, exhumed sections of mantle lithosphere (e.g. tions of synthetic garnets. Last, Galoisy writes about the
Van Roermund and Drury 1998; Keshav et al. 2007; FIG. 1C), cultural and historical relevance of garnet, while describing
garnet is rarely observed in this context. In the crust, garnet different gem varieties and the underlying crystal chemistry
is a common constituent of metamorphic rocks derived from that creates a rainbow of colors.
almost any protolith, from lower greenschist facies rocks
to ultrahigh-temperature (UHT) granulites and ultrahigh- WHAT IS GARNET?
pressure (UHP) eclogites. Garnet can crystallize in igneous According to the updated garnet nomenclature published
rocks, such as peraluminous granites. Due to its density by Grew et al. (2013), “the garnet supergroup includes all
minerals isostructural with garnet regardless of what elements
1 Department of Earth & Environment, Boston University
675 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA 02215, USA
occupy the four atomic sites.” However, in common natural
E-mail: efb@bu.edu occurrences, garnet is a silicate mineral belonging to the
nesosilicate group (i.e. it is constructed of isolated silicon
2 Department of Geosciences, Virginia Tech
4044 Derring Hall, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA tetrahedra [SiO44– ] bound together by other cations). Its
general formula is X3Y2 Si3O12 , where X is an eightfold-
3 Department of Geology and Geophysics, Yale University
P.O. Box 208109, New Haven, CT 06520-8109, USA
coordinated site most commonly filled by a solid solution of
divalent Fe, Mg, Ca, and Mn, and Y is a sixfold-coordinated
4 Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University site typically fi lled by trivalent Al (i.e. the aluminosilicate
New Haven, CT 06511, USA

E LEMENTS , V OL . 9, PP. 415–419 415 D ECEMBER 2013

Alaska.000 published papers (since 1965. such as isometric In what ways has garnet been used or applied? A Web of crystal structure.COM (D). (yttrium aluminum garnet. EVELYN M ERVINE (B). calcite. zeolite) and ahead of such synthetic compositions do not occur naturally (at least important and/or common minerals like feldspar. allowing for the identification of a “garnet crust and mantle and in metamorphic and igneous rocks. and a one other term yields the greatest number for “garnet” plus diverse range of vibrant colors. trial. PHOTOS COURTESY OF G EORGE ROSSMAN (A). graphite. not as sufficiently pure end-members).g.” sites can incorporate significant amounts of heavy rare driving home the importance of garnet in the evolving earth elements. It is noteworthy that these highest- oxide materials are garnet in the structural sense and thus scoring topic minerals include those with important share certain key properties with common silicate garnets. diamond. minerals or broad mineral groups that were searched for TABLE 1) have also been fabricated for industrial use. industrial or technological applications. (A) A euhedral. lasing ability (for use in lasers).000 papers! Emerging technologies may possess properties making them unique and useful in such as Li-stuffed garnets and their use in rechargeable several applications. and olivine. Wood et al. important in laser technology) Baxter and Scherer 2013 this issue).5).g.5 g/cm3 for almandine). these are reviewed 26. and other technological applications). such properties include magnetism battery technology have begun to attract significant atten- (for use in electronics). the list is topped by established industrial 2013) and for sufficient enrichment of radioactive lutetium applications. quartz. WIMON Uvarovite Ca3Cr2Si3O12 MANOROTKUL /PALAGEMS. technological.g. comprise the top three most cited papers on the E LEMENTS 416 D ECEMBER 2013 . hardness (7. (2013 this issue) and Wood et al. the Web of Science indicated over substitutions exist in natural garnets. (E) YAG Y3Al2 Al3O12 YIG Y3Fe2Fe3O12 Synthetic yttrium Synthetic yttrium aluminum garnet iron garnet garnets) or sometimes by Fe3+ or Cr. AND SCIENTIFIC MATERIALS CORP. In terms of uses. The garnet crystals are up to 3 mm in diameter. Many additional end-member species (32 in total) and elemental At the time of writing. (D) Demantoid garnet gemstones. when the Web of in Grew et al. (C) Garnet harzburgite from the Boshoff Road Almandine Fe3Al2Si3O12 Andradite Ca3Fe2Si3O12 Dumps. These applications are followed in number by geoscientific uses. magnetism.” While the former includes the role of garnet in controlling Just how useful is garnet in comparison to other minerals? magma compositions. mainly involving the calibrated exchange of Fe search engines provide a means (albeit imperfect) of quanti- and Mg between garnet and other minerals in the mantle fying the scientific usefulness. 1E. (2013) and several are discussed in Geiger Science database begins) that include the “topic” of garnet. FIG. The formulas and names of some common species are given in TABLE 1. (F) Garnet as Pyrope Mg3Al2Si3O12 Spessartine Mn3Al2Si3O12 an abrasive in common sandpaper. (2013 this issue). YIG and YAG. Alaska. and cultural value. high density (up to Science search for papers that include the topic of garnet plus 4. signature” in the source of mantle melting (e. and crust. Synthetic oxide garnets alone yields over 40. including “garnet” plus “laser” and “garnet” (over daughter hafnium) and samarium (over daughter plus “magnetism. these crystalline zircon. Kimberley. scale structure manifest themselves in important and/or desirable physical and optical properties. ~3 cm garnet crystal in names and abbreviations a metamorphic schist from Wrangell. geothermobarometric applications Usefulness is of course largely subjective. Grossular Ca3Al2Si3O12 Majorite Mg3 (MgSi)Si3O12 (E) Neodymium-YAG rods for use in laser technology. Garnet is thus unusual in providing both geoscientific value and indus- Garnet’s wide-ranging chemical composition and its atom.” A Web of Science topic search for “YAG” neodymium) to make garnet useful for geochronology (e. While (clay. (B) Garnet beach sand near Nome. though modern of garnet. tion in recent years (see Geiger 2013 for a discussion of this and ion conduction (for use in batteries) (see Geiger 2013). both natural (A–C) and Some important garnet end-member compositional TABLE 1 societal (D–F). or frequency of application. Synthetic This places garnet (as a “topic”) behind only five other crystals with the garnet structure (e. Garnet’s large edge-sharing “metamorphism” and “garnet” plus “mantle/magma/melt. including UNCOMMONLY USEFUL closely related “partitioning” and “geo/thermo/barometry. South Africa. A B C D E F FIGURE 1 Garnet in its many settings. GRAHAM PEARSON (C). high bulk modulus.

FIG. In sediments and sedimentary rocks. Pollington and industrial application of natural garnet has been as an Baxter 2010. GARNET IN EARTH’S DEEP INTERIOR duration. of those specific processes (e. The incorporation of Fe3+ in garnet has been used to monitor the oxygen fugacity ( fO2) of the mantle (see later discussion and Berry et al. For example. calcic garnets (grossular and andradite) may “Garnet” plus “spectroscopy. though lower- temperature Mn. see Johnson 1993). its hardness. form in calcsilicate rocks. contrib- uting to the long-term stability and bulk chemistry of the continents (e. FIGURE 2 Barton Mine at Gore Mountain. In addition.g. including Si in the Y site and Na in the X site. retrogression. 4B). 2012). 2001). leading to Si-enriched. regional.g. 2013). Van Haren and Woensdregt for scale. 3) has been interpreted to reflect rotation of growing cutting. contact. Ménez et al.g. sometimes spanning millions or even tens of Mountain in New York State in 1878 (FIG. abrasive blasting (garnet replaced quartz in the late garnet crystals during tectonic deformation (for a discus- 1980s as a sandblasting medium due to health concerns sion. 3. and inclusion records of these zoned crystals can yield invalu- Predating Web of Science citation metrics. water-jet (FIG. Schertl and O’Brien topic of “garnet”: Ellis and Green (1979). Garnet growth and intracrystal- line zonation are increasingly used to constrain the timing. 2009.g. 2012). which illuminates the role peraluminous granites. Baxter and Scherer (2013). and Brey and Kohler (1990). garnet is stable at temperatures it may be found in the heavy-mineral fraction in clastic up to almost 2000 °C and pressures as high as ~25 GPa. but it still retains records for thousands of years due to its many colors. round out the most frequently frequently grow in a simple concentric pattern. continental root as manifested in seismic velocity data. and garnet sandpaper can be disturbed by cracking. elemental substitutions. Ménez et al. In this context. 2013). since the able information about the evolution of Earth’s crust (e. 1977. including skarn-type contact sion. 4D). Ague its commonality.” and “diffu.g. 2012.1–0. Caddick and Kohn 2013 this issue).g. resulting from the melting of of garnet in the physicochemical properties of the deep Al-rich sedimentary rocks (e. 1996. USA. 4). GARNET IN THE CRUST—A TECTONIC “TAPE RECORDER” Most of the garnet we see at the surface derives from metamorphic rocks. occurring in garnet granulites and pyroxenites at the base FIG.” which are key topics covered in this issue by Geiger metamorphic rocks (e. fi rst commercial development of garnet quarries at Gore FIGS.g. such that the chemical. Garnet may also form as a consequence of anatexis (1978). the high density of garnet-rich eclogites creates the primary “slab- pull” driving force for plate motion as subducted oceanic crust transforms to eclogite and descends into the mantle.g. tinuity.g. Angiboust et al. D’Errico et al. Al-poor compositions collectively known as majorite (see Wood et al. 2003). 2). the primary millions of years (e.e. Clemens and Wall 1981). and its luster (Galoisy 2013). Ducea 2011). Dense garnet pyroxenites in the roots of continents may similarly lead to delamination or “drips” of dense mafic material from the base of the continental crust. Finally. Spear 1993. Galoisy (2013). Garnet transforms to GARNET AT EARTH’S SURFACE perovskite and disappears below the 670 km seismic discon- While garnet is not known to be an authigenic phase. Coauthor Caddick at atmospheric pressure (e. not unlike published application areas of garnet.g. 4C.g. Wood et al. It usually forms at temperatures above ~400 °C and pressures above ~0. Coombs et al.” “geochronology. FIG. The high density and bulk modulus of garnet can be significant in modifying the seismic wave velocities that are useful in the imaging of Earth’s layered interior (e. Ague and Carlson 2013. Garnet crystals Ague and Carlson (2013). Garnet can persist up to UHT and UHP conditions within the hottest orogens (e. Hacker et al. tree rings. Theye et al. e. where it is the primary storehouse of aluminum. isotopic.4 GPa (e.2 GPa. D). Garnet may form in rocks that are sufficiently rich in Al (or Fe3+ or Cr) and in many metamor- phic contexts (i. of the crust and throughout the upper mantle. and subduction- related metamorphism). Skora et al.g. Crystals nearly tine garnet has been crystallized experimentally from melt 1 meter in diameter have been reported here. and Carlson 2013. and kinetics of tectonometamorphic processes Garnet is one of the primary constituents of the deep Earth. Baxter and Scherer 2013. Deep red garnet crystals are suspended in black amphibolite. Garnet in some beach the mantle. fluid processes. Fantastic spiral or “snowball” garnet abrasive. Uses have included abrasive powders. textural. and thermal systems (e.g. Garnet’s physical properties are also significant (e.g. >1000 °C. Harley 1998) or the deepest subducted materials (well into the diamond stability field at more than ~4 GPa. (Olson 2006). (e. garnet has been a popular gemstone or thermally activated diffusion. 2013). New York State. garnet zonation over airborne crystalline silica). In many cases. partial melting at high metamorphic temperatures) registering over 1000 citations with “garnet” as a topic is and occurs as an igneous phase in some S-type and Christensen and Mooney (1995).e. The only other paper (i. garnet’s structure can accommodate diverse E LEMENTS 417 D ECEMBER 2013 . at ≤300 °C and 0. and spessar- where garnet has been mined since 1878. 2012) and in hydro- (2013).g.and Ca-rich garnets have been reported in nature (e. Ferry and Spear 2013).

5 1. “hydrogarnet”. GARNET AND THE EARTH’S VOLATILE BUDGET Garnet is a nominally anhydrous mineral and water (hydroxyl) does not appear in garnet’s ideal formula. Olson 2006).5 et al.5 My duration and pulses (gray bands) of accelerated garnet growth (Pollington and Baxter 2010). which are 1975).g. garnet occasionally incorporates significant crossed polarizers such that the garnet appears black (isotropic).0 1. garnet plays a major role in monitoring and influencing the Earth’s water cycle. (A) Oscillatory zoning of aluminum in a hydrothermal Ca–Cr–Fe3+ garnet.5 composition flooding 0. 2013). 3) to anisotropic. garnet can be a storehouse of a significant amount of water as a trace constituent.15 changing oxygen fugacity due to 3. In this case. (e. Grew et al. FIG. hydroxyl into its tetrahedral structure (e.5 200 600 1000 X’ 0. refl ecting Fe3+Ȉ)H 0.g. (F) Fe3+/ΣFe zonation measured by microXANES.5 Laser FF mantle metasomatism (Berry et al. Morton 1985).1 wt% FIGURE 3 Rotated spiral garnet (~1 cm across) in thin section. The sample is from the garnet zone below the Main Central Thrust. imparting a subtle play Given its large compositional range. 2012). (C) Complex major element zonation revealing a growth 26 morphology indicative of garnet growth far from chemical equilibrium (Wilbur and Ague 2006). prebiotic environments.g. amphibole. e. cutting across C C *DUQHWDJH0D 28 D D darker blue) related to subduction zone seismicity (from Angiboust et al.g. detrital garnet has of dark to light gray colors under crossed polarizers. IMAGE COURTESY OF SCOTT JOHNSON Rossman and Aines 1991. 2012). Garnet growth can record 30 20 PRO 10 A A B B FIGURE 4 Garnet zonation records changing conditions. (E) Oxygen isotope zonation (δ18O) in skarn garnet reflecting infiltration of meteoric fluids during hydro- 20 *DUQHWUDGLXVFP thermal mineralization (D’Errico 0Q Ca 0. A recent report on deep-sea serpentinites within reactants in many garnet-forming reactions (e. However.0 2. and lawsonite. $O —P —P 0J (B) Magnesium zonation in an eclog- itic garnet showing healed fractures (light blue-green. Nepal Himalaya. including use as an indicator heralds the major dehydration of hydrous minerals such mineral in diamond exploration (Dawson and Stephens as chlorite. as well as the cycling of other important volatiles. izers.5 bulk į18O(Grt) 2013). mica. The been used by sedimentologists as a powerful provenance growth of garnet during metamorphism also typically tracer (e.5 Rebound 'LVWDQFH—P -4.5 2. 2012). Spear shallow oceanic crust reveals the presence of past microbial 1993. Bell and Rossman 1992.10 -2. Mookherjee and Karato 2010). like oxygen. refl ecting subtle changes in hydrothermal fluid composition. In the mantle.05 X EE E LEMENTS 418 D ECEMBER 2013 . hydroxyl can reduce the symmetry of the usually isometric garnet.g. The photo was taken in transmitted light under In the crust. MAP COURTESY OF CHARLES G EIGER.g. which changes its crystallographic properties from sands and alluvial deposits may be sufficiently concen- isotropic (black in transmitted light under crossed polar- trated to be mined as an abrasive (e. 1. Baxter and Caddick 2013). Stable fluid Meteoric —P -0. 0J Fe (D) Age-zoned garnet revealed by PP 24 geochronology of color-contoured compositional growth zones showing a 7. Garnet in this context appears well suited for colonization by microbial life and may have been an important player in early hydrothermal. with concentrations up to 0. communities within cavities in low-temperature hydro- andradite (Ménez et al.

Geology star. et al. Caddick MJ (2013) Garnet microprobe analysis of oxygen isotopes growth as a proxy for progressive Galoisy L (2013) Garnet: From stone to in garnets of complex chemistry. Hawaii: High-pressure the Lienne Syncline. Galuskina IO. Stephens WE (1975) Statistical CV3 chondrites and Allende dark inclu. 2013). Houghton BF. Peacock SM (2003) Subduction factory – 1. discussions. doi:10. Nakamura K (1998) exhumation of mantle rocks from >185 and Petrology 63: 229-246 Secondary calcium-iron-rich minerals in km depth. evidence for (Mn3Al 2 Si3O12 ). Baumgartner LP. Scott ERD. Yamato P. Wilbur DE. Valley JW (2010) Ion Baxter EF. 29. Elements 9: 453-456 Chemical Geology 270: 9-19 41: 643-646 Geiger CA (2013) Garnet: A key phase in Pollington AD. Geological Society Special Publication crystallization in the UHP eclogites and practical assessment of existing 138: 81-107 at Lago di Cignana. Ongoing debate generous support. Geological Survey Minerals Yearbook Raimbourg H (2012) Eclogite breccias in Ferry JM. II. for example. Scherer EE (2013) Garnet nature. html#myb] 40: 707-710 Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology 66: 113-117 Page FZ. Kiseeva ES. Johnson CM. Valley JW. Matzen AK (2013) thermal fluid flow in the Sierra Nevada Garnet in the Earth’s mantle. calibration of the partitioning of Fe gov/minerals/pubs/commodity/garnet/ mediate-depth earthquakes? Geology and Mg between biotite and garnet. Drury MR (1998) solutions in very low-grade regionally Ultra-high pressure (P >6 GPa) garnet metamorphosed rocks in Southern New K rot AN. Abers GA. low-pressure tion of the continental crust: A global Garnet-bearing xenoliths from Salt Lake metamorphism of Mn-rich rocks in view. American Andradite and andradite-grossular solid Mineralogist 78: 988-1001 Va n Roermund HLM. and technology. Keshav S. 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