Serpentinite From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A sample of serpentinite rock, partially made up of chrysotile

Boulder of Serpentinite at Soldiers Delight Natural Environmental Area, Maryland Serpentinite is a rock composed of one or more serpentine group minerals. Minerals in this group are formed by serpentinization, a hydration and metamorphic transformation of ultramafic rock from the Earth's mantle. The alteration is particularly important at the sea floor at tectonic plate boundaries. It is the state rock of California, USA and the California Legislature specified that serpentine was “the official State Rock and lithologic emblem.”[1] However, a serious faction is trying to remove the rock's title, as it occasionally contains asbestos, considered inappropriate as a state symbol.

Contents
• • • • • • • • •

1 Formation 2 Hydrogen production by anaerobic oxidation of fayalite ferrous ions 3 Serpentinite reactions 4 Carbon sequestration 5 Bleistein or Ofenstein 6 Serpentinization on Mars 7 See also 8 External links 9 References

Formation
Serpentinization is a geological low-temperature metamorphic process involving heat and water in which lowsilica mafic and ultramafic rocks are oxidized (anaerobic oxidation of Fe2+ by the protons of water leading to the formation of H2) and hydrolyzed with water into serpentinite. Peridotite, including dunite, at and near the seafloor and in mountain belts is converted to serpentine, brucite, magnetite, and other minerals — some rare, such as awaruite (Ni3Fe), and even native iron. In the process large amounts of water are absorbed into the rock increasing the volume and destroying the structure.

Neglecting the orthosilicate anions not involved in the redox process. some of which are complementary. below. Serpentinite reactions 1a and 1b. . These are highly exothermic reactions. Finally. exchange silica between forsterite and fayalite to form serpentine group minerals and magnetite. hydrogen (H2) is produced by the anaerobic oxidation of ferrous ions (Fe2+) present in the crystal lattice of the iron-endmember fayalite by the protons (H+) of water. it is then possible to schematically write the two half-redox reactions as follows: 4 (Fe2+ → Fe3+ + e–) (oxidation of ferrous ions) 2 (H2O + 2 e– → O2– + H2) (reduction of protons into hydrogen) This leads to the global redox reaction involving ferrous ions oxidation by water: 4 Fe2+ + 2 H2O → 4 Fe3+ + 2 O2– + 2 H2 The two unoxidised ferrous (Fe2+) ions still available in the three formula units of fayalite finally combine with the four ferric (Fe3+) cations and oxide anions (O2–) to form two formula units of magnetite (Fe3O4). Olivine is a solid solution between the magnesium-endmember forsterite and the iron-endmember fayalite. it is possible to write the complete reaction of anaerobic oxidation and hydrolysis of fayalite according to the following mass balance: 3 Fe2SiO4 + 2 H2O → 2 Fe3O4 + 3 SiO2 + 3 H2 fayalite + water → magnetite + quartz + hydrogen This reaction closely resembles the Schikorr reaction observed in the anaerobic oxidation of the ferrous hydroxide in contact with water: 3 Fe(OH)2 → Fe3O4 + 2 H2O + H2 ferrous hydroxide → magnetite + water + hydrogen Serpentinite reactions Serpentinite is formed from olivine via several reactions. considering the required rearrangement of the orthosilicate anions into free silica (SiO2) and free oxide anions (O2–).7 g/cm3 with a concurrent volume increase of about 40%. Carbonates and sulfates are subsequently reduced by hydrogen and form methane and hydrogen sulfide.3 to 2. and hydrogen sulfide provide energy sources for deep sea chemotroph microorganisms. Hydrogen production by anaerobic oxidation of fayalite ferrous ions In the absence of atmospheric oxygen (O2). Considering three formula units of fayalite (Fe2(SiO4)) for the purpose of stoechiometry and reaction mass balance. providing an energy source for formation of non-volcanic hydrothermal vents. Rock temperatures can be raised by about 260 oC. The magnetite-forming chemical reactions produce hydrogen gas under anaerobic conditions prevailing deep in the mantle. methane.The density changes from 3. in deep geological conditions prevailing far away from Earth atmosphere. The reaction is exothermic and large amounts of heat energy are produced in the process. The hydrogen. far from the Earth atmosphere. four ferrous ions will undergo oxidation by water protons while the two remaining will stay unoxidised.

Fluids involved in serpentinite formation commonly are highly reactive and may transport calcium and other elements into surrounding rocks. Analogy of reaction 1c with belite hydration in ordinary Portland cement: Belite + water → C-S-H phase + portlandite 2 Ca2SiO4 + 4 H2O → 3 CaO · 2 SiO2 · 3 H2O + Ca(OH)2 After reaction. serpentinitization may form either magnesite (MgCO3) or generate methane (CH4). It is thought that some hydrocarbon gases may be produced by serpentinite reactions within the oceanic crust. Serpentine is stable at high pH in the presence of brucite like calcium silicate hydrate. though less readily and with complication of the additional end-products due to the wider compositions of pyroxene and pyroxene-olivine mixes. the poorly soluble reaction products (aqueous silica or dissolved magnesium ions) can be transported in solution out of the serpentinized zone by diffusion or advection. Antigorite forms in reactions at temperatures that can exceed 600°C during metamorphism. together with the serpentine minerals antigorite.Reaction 1a: Fayalite + water → magnetite + aqueous silica + hydrogen 3Fe2SiO4 + 2H2O → 2Fe3O4 + 3SiO2 + 2H2 Reaction 1b: Forsterite + aqueous silica → serpentine 3Mg2SiO4 + SiO2 + 4H2O → 2Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 Reaction 1c: Forsterite + water → serpentine + brucite 2Mg2SiO4 + 3H2O → Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + Mg(OH)2 Reaction 1c describes the hydration of olivine with water only to yield serpentine and Mg(OH)2 (brucite). the artificial calcium equivalent of forsterite. In the presence of carbon dioxide. lizardite. however. and chrysotile. (C-S-H) phases formed along with portlandite (Ca(OH)2) in hardened Portland cement paste after the hydration of belite (Ca2SiO4). The final mineralogy depends both on rock and fluid compositions. Talc and magnesian chlorite are possible products. and pressure. fluid reaction with these rocks may create metasomatic reaction zones enriched in calcium and called rodingites. Reaction 2a: Olivine + water + carbonic acid → serpentine + magnetite + methane . and it is the serpentine group mineral stable at the highest temperatures. A similar suite of reactions involves pyroxene-group minerals. temperature. Lizardite and chrysotile can form at low temperatures very near the Earth's surface.

(Fe. The degree to which a mass of ultramafic rock undergoes serpentinisation depends on the starting rock composition and on whether or not fluids transport calcium. to favor the production of magnesite and the fixation of carbon.Mg)2SiO4 + nH2O + CO2 → Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + Fe3O4 + CH4 or. magnesium must be transported out of the reacting volume. and for that olivine to react completely to serpentine. the olivine is about 90% forsterite endmember. magnesium and other elements away during the process. Reaction 2b is favored in highly magnesian compositions and low partial pressure of carbon dioxide. The ideal composition of olivine or serpentinite for this process is thus highly magnesian. then olivine plus water can completely metamorphose to serpentine and magnetite in a closed system. In most ultramafic rocks formed in the Earth's mantle. as evidenced by the apparent preservation of textures inherited from the peridotite. magnetite. has been proposed as an efficient reagent for carbon sequestration using the magnesite reaction. Serpentinitization of a mass of peridotite usually destroys all previous textural evidence because the serpentine minerals are weak and behave in a very ductile fashion. However. If an olivine composition contains sufficient fayalite. however. its precursor. in balanced form: 18Mg2SiO4 + 6Fe2SiO4 + 26H2O + CO2 → 12Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + 4Fe3O4 + CH4 Reaction 2b: Olivine + water + carbonic acid → serpentine + magnetite + magnesite + silica (Fe.Mg)2SiO4 + nH2O + CO2 → Mg3Si2O5(OH)4 + Fe3O4 + MgCO3 + SiO2 Reaction 2a is favored if the serpentinite is Mg-poor or if there isn't enough carbon dioxide to promote talc formation. Serpentinization has been proposed as an alternative non-biological source for the observed methane traces. and silica.[citation needed] It was used primarily for building wood burning indoor heating stoves as it has the capacity of storing and dispersing heat very well along the veins. or a variation where serpentine is reacted with carbon dioxide and hydrogen to form magnesite. [2] [3] See also . Bleistein or Ofenstein A lamelled variety of serpentinite is found in South Tyrol and is locally called Bleistein (Leadstone) or Ofenstein (Ovenstone). mentioned hereabove. some masses of serpentinite are less severely deformed. along with olivine. and the serpentinites may have behaved in a rigid fashion.[citation needed] Serpentinization on Mars The presence of traces of methane in the atmosphere of Mars has been hypothesized to be possible evidence for life on Mars. Carbon sequestration Serpentinite.

see http://www. 3.2. ^ "Life on Mars?". http://www.org/issues/pub/life-on-mars. American Scientist.ca.com/news/space/1623762/methane_evidence_of_life_on_mars_update/index.redorbit. 15 January 2009. March-April 2006. ^ "Methane: Evidence Of Life On Mars?".html. redorbit. ^ California Government Code § 425. also useful for silicate and oxide reactions in mineralogy Chrysotile dehydration Lost City (hydrothermal field) Olivine Hydrothermal and metasomatism Metamorphism Nephrite Carbon sequestration Talc carbonate Soapstone Life on Mars External links • ZECA Corporation serpentinite carbon sequestration process Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Serpentinite References • • Serpentinization: The Heat Engine at Lost City and Sponge of the Oceanic Crust H2-rich fluids from serpentinization: Geochemical and biotic implications 1. Retrieved 2009-01-06.com. http://www. Retrieved 2009-01-06.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode? section=gov&group=00001-01000&file=420-429. Schikorr reaction From Wikipedia. Thursday.8 2.americanscientist.leginfo.• Schikorr reaction. involving also the formation of magnetite and hydrogen by a very similar mechanism 3 Fe(OH)2 → Fe3O4 + H2 + 2 H2O ferrous hydroxide → magnetite + hydrogen + water • • • • • • • • • • • • Hydration of belite in cement (analogous to forsterite hydration) Cement chemist notation. the free encyclopedia .

III) oxide (Fe3O4). The global reaction that Schikorr proposed to explain his observations onto the iron hydroxides conversion. the start-reagent of the Schikorr reaction. The global reaction can thus be decomposed in half redox reactions as follows: 2 (Fe2+ → Fe3+ + e–) (oxidation of 2 iron(II) ions) . a German specialist of iron corrosion. and which later received his name. The reduction of two water protons is accompanied by the production of molecular hydrogen (H2). in his early works (~1928-1933) on iron(II) and iron(III) hydroxides. The bases of this transformation reaction were first studied by Gerhard Schikorr. The Schikorr reaction formally describes the conversion of the iron(II) hydroxide (Fe(OH)2) into iron(II. the end-product of the Schikorr reaction along with hydrogen gas. Fe(OH)2.iron(II) hydroxide. Magnified crystals of iron(II. can be written as follows: 3 Fe(OH)2 → Fe3O4 + H2 + 2 H2O Contents • • • • • • • • 1 Reaction mechanism 2 Occurrences 3 Application fields 4 Hydrogen evolution 5 Hydrogen embrittlement of steel alloys 6 See also 7 References 8 External links Reaction mechanism The Schikorr reaction involves two distinct processes: • • the anaerobic oxidation of two Fe(II) (Fe2+) into Fe(III) (Fe3+) by the protons of water. the loss of two water molecules from the iron(II) and iron(III) hydroxides giving rise to its dehydration and to the formation of a thermodynamically more stable phase iron(II.III) oxide. and.III) oxide (Fe3O4).

like in a classical acid-base reaction: OH– + OH– → O2– + H2O acid 1 + base 2 → base 1 + acid 2. Anaerobic corrosion of metallic iron to give iron(II) hydroxide and hydrogen: 3 (Fe + 2 H2O → Fe(OH)2 + H2) .III) oxide: Fe(II)O + Fe(III)2O3 → Fe3O4 it is possible to write the balanced global reaction: 3 Fe(OH)2 → (FeO·Fe2O3) + 2 H2O + H2 in its final form.2 (H2O + e– → ½ H2 + OH–) (reduction of 2 water protons) to give: 2 Fe2+ + 2 H2O → 2 Fe3+ + H2 + 2 OH– Adding to this reaction one intact iron(II) ion for each two oxidized iron(II) ions leads to: 3 Fe2+ + 2 H2O → Fe2+ + 2 Fe3+ + H2 + 2 OH– Electroneutrality requires the iron cations on both sides of the equation to be counter-balanced by 6 hydroxyl anions (OH–): 3 Fe2+ + 6 OH– + 2 H2O → Fe2+ + 2 Fe3+ + H2 + 8 OH– 3 Fe(OH)2 + 2 H2O → Fe(OH)2 + 2 Fe(OH)3 + H2 For completing the main reaction. 2 OH– → O2– + H2O it is then possible to reorganize the global reaction as: 3 Fe(OH)2 + 2 H2O → (FeO + H2O) + (Fe2O3 + 3 H2O) + H2 3 Fe(OH)2 + 2 H2O → FeO + Fe2O3 + 4 H2O + H2 3 Fe(OH)2 → FeO + Fe2O3 + 2 H2O + H2 Considering then the formation reaction of iron(II. a proton exchange between two OH–. or also. two companion reactions have still to be taken into account: The autoprotolysis of the hydroxyl anions. known as the Schikorr reaction: 3 Fe(OH)2 → Fe3O4 + 2 H2O + H2 Occurrences The Schikorr reaction can occur in the process of anaerobic corrosion of iron and carbon steel in various conditions.

it is essential to understand this process to guarantee the total containment of HLW waste in an engineered barrier during the first centuries or millennia when the radiotoxicity of the waste is high and when it emits a significant quantity of heat.III) oxide. 2009. Nagra.followed by the Schikorr reaction: 3 Fe(OH)2 → Fe3O4 + 2 H2O + H2 give the following global reaction: 3 Fe + 6 H2O → Fe3O4 + 2 H2O + 4 H2 3 Fe + 4 H2O → Fe3O4 + 4 H2 At low temperature. Indeed. 2008. such as in permanently water-saturated soils. a gas pressure build-up could occur if the rate of hydrogen production by the anaerobic corrosion of carbon-steel and by the subsequent transformation of green rust into magnetite should exceed the rate of diffusion of dissolved H2 in the pore water of the formation. This deals then with the service life of concrete structures. Several . in the frame of the corrosion studies related to HLW disposal. Indeed. Application fields Anaerobic oxidation of iron and steel commonly finds place in oxygen-depleted environments. Hydrogen evolution The slow but continuous production of hydrogen in deep low-permeability argillaceous formations could represent a problem for the long-term disposal of radioactive waste (Ortiz et al. France. King and Kolar. After diffusion. Nagra Technical Reports 2000 – 2009) in the countries (Belgium. or iron(II) hydroxycarbonate (Fe2(OH)2(CO3). Switzerland. 2001. hydrogen atoms can recombine into molecular hydrogen giving rise to the formation of high-pressure micro-bubbles of H2 in the metallic lattice.. chukanovite) isomorphic to copper(II) hydroxycarbonate (Cu2(OH)2(CO3). The question is presently the object of many studies (King. recent Nagra NTB reports). The trends to expansion of H2 bubbles and the resulting tensile stress can generate cracks in the metallic alloys sensitive to this effect also known as hydrogen embrittlement. anaerobic corrosion of steel is receiving a renewed and continued attention. peat bogs or wetlands in which archaeological iron artefacts are often found. malachite) in the copper system. 2008. Canada) envisaging the option of disposal in clay formation. amongst others the near-surface vaults intended for hosting low-level radioactive waste.. or if bicarbonate ions are present in solution. Nowadays. the anaerobic corrosion of iron can give rise to the formation of "green rust"(fougerite) an unstable layered double hydroxide (LDH). The question is also relevant for the corrosion of the reinforcement bars (rebars) in concrete (Aligizaki et al. 2000). Hydrogen embrittlement of steel alloys When nascent hydrogen is produced by anaerobic corrosion of iron by the protons of water. iron(II) hydroxide and green rust can progressively transform in iron(II. In function of the geochemical conditions prevailing in the environment of the corroding steel. the atomic hydrogen can diffuse into the metal crystal lattice because of the existing concentration gradient. Anaerobic oxidation of carbon steel of canisters and overpacks is also expected to occur in deep geological formations in which high-level radioactive waste (HLW) and spent fuels (SF) should be ultimately disposed. they can also evolve towards more stable carbonate phases such as iron carbonate (FeCO3).

http://www. King. doi:10. ISSN 0010-938X. Retrieved 2010-08-01. Shoesmith (2009).nagra.com/science/article/B6TWS-3VSNG79-6/2/94cd01f8cff318412011d838c7d7bbb8. http://www. Theory manual for the steel corrosion model version 1.nagra. Mario R. involving also the transformation of olivine into magnetite. D. http://www. F.cms/s_page/83220/s_name/shopproductdetail1/s_element/142590/s_level/10190/s_prod uct/20902/searchkey/Corrosion. Retrieved 2010-08-01.cms/s_page/83220/s_name/shopproductdetail1/s_element/142590/s_level/10190/s_prod uct/20812/searchkey/Corrosion. Kolar (2009).Mg)(OH)2 Fougerite Iron(II) oxide Redox reaction Serpentinisation reaction. "Revised Pourbaix diagrams for iron at 25-300 °C". quartz and hydrogen: 3 Fe2SiO4 + 2 H2O → 2 Fe3O4 + 3 SiO2 + 3 H2 References Aligizaki. Materials Chemistry and Physics 8 (2): 125–133. L.cms/s_page/83220/s_name/shopproductdetail1/s_element/142590/s_level/10190/s_prod uct/20807/searchkey/Corrosion. "Analysis of iron oxides accumulating at the interface between aggregates and cement paste". Davenport. doi:10.ch/g3. . Nagra (2008)..". http://www. "Corrosion of carbon steel under anaerobic conditions in a repository for SF and HLW in Opalinus Clay. Puigdomenech (1996-12). "Effects of post-disposal gas generation in a repository for low. 2009) address this question in the frame of the radioactive waste disposal in Switzerland and Canada.and intermediate-level waste sited in the Opalinus Clay of Northern Switzerland. Beverskog. Digby D. Nagra Technical Report NTB 08-12. Ardizzone. ISSN 0008-8846. I.ch/g3. King and Kolar. NWMO TR-2009-07 March 2009. Landolt.. 2008. "A review of materials and corrosion issues regarding canisters for disposal of spent fuel and high-level waste in Opalinus Clay.1016/0254-0584(83)900469. 2009.sciencedirect. Retrieved 2010-08-01. doi:10. de Rooij. J.0. B. (Fe.1016/S0010-938X(96)00067-4. Payer.recent studies (Turnbull. Retrieved 2010-08-01. ISSN 0254-0584.". King. "Temperature induced phase transformation of metastable Fe(OH)3 in the presence of ferrous ions". King.sciencedirect..1016/S0008-8846(00)00392-6. See also • • • • • • • Anaerobic corrosion of steel Anoxic waters Iron hydroxides. Formaro (1983-02).nagra. A.. D. M. Fraser (2008). and their rare mineral analogue in nature: amakinite.ch/g3. Kalliopi K. Retrieved 2010-08-01. Nagra Technical Report NTB 09-02. Cement and Concrete Research 30 (12): 1941–1945. http://www. Corrosion Science 38 (12): 2121–2135. S.com/science/article/B6TWG-44DT6KD-D/2/2394a9578f9b6d1a063a4aec05d46ce5. Macdonald (2000-12). Nagra Technical Report NTB 08-07"..

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out of 2 total. the free media repository Subcategories This category has the following 2 subcategories.Serpentinization: The Heat Engine at Lost City and Sponge of the Oceanic Crust An important characteristic of serpentinization is that the hydration reactions in the mantle rocks are exothermic – that is.000 joules of heat per cubic meter of rock. out of 24 total. 21 F) Media in category "Serpentinite" The following 24 files are in this category. S • • [+] Serpentinite samples (1 C. At the same time. this process produces about 660. the amount of energy produced by serpentinization of one cubic meter of rock (about 35 cubic feet) is enough to run a 100 watt light bulb for about 76 days! The geological significance of this heat effect is that serpentinization processes are capable of raising the rock temperature by about 260°C (550°F). In fact. It is this heat source that appears to be driving the Lost City hydrothermal system. 6 F) [+] Serpentine (5 C.000. metal-rich fluids that ultimately create spectacular “Black Smoker” sulfide structures. The amount of heat produced is directly proportional to the amount of water that is taken up to form the mineral serpentine. if one ignores processes that lead to heat transport and cooling of the rock. This is in strong contrast to other known hydrothermal systems along the mid-ocean ridges. they consume water and produce a significant amount of heat during the transformation of olivine to serpentine and magnetite. . In simple terms. Some of the questions that we will try to answer with our studies of the Lost City system are: How fast has serpentinization taken place at the Atlantis Massif? What are the hydrothermal temperatures today and how hot has this system been in the past? How long can serpentinization sustain hydrothermal activity in the future? Category:Serpentinite From Wikimedia Commons. which are driven by magmatic heat and are characterized by high temperature. serpentinization consumes an average of about 300 kilograms (approximately 300 liters or 79 US gallons) of water per cubic meter of rock that is altered.

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(more below) 15 of 17 Gallery Index Prev Next Photo (c) 2009 Andrew Alden.Serpentinite Pictures of Metamorphic Rock Types By Andrew Alden. licensed to About. where it forms by the alteration of the mantle rock peridotite. It forms by regional metamorphism of deep-sea rocks from the oceanic mantle.com Guide See More About: • • serpentinite metamorphic rocks Serpentinite is composed of minerals of the serpentine group.com Serpentinite is common beneath the oceanic crust. (See more about serpentinization and its importance in plate tectonics.) But it is . About.

A big close-up picture of serpentinite is available as a free wallpaper image. Serpentinite is low in plant nutrients and high in toxic metals.seldom seen on land except in rocks from subduction zones. It is found on land only where pieces of oceanic plates escaped subduction and were accreted against the upper plate. endemic species. Images 1-12 of 21 Enter Gallery PrevNext . but serpentine is the set of minerals that make up serpentinite (ser-PENT-inite). thin fibers. polished surfaces. the serpentine mineral that crystallizes in long. or serpentinization. waxy or resinous luster and curving. This is the mineral commonly known as asbestos. where serpentinite is widespread (and indeed is the official state rock). Thus the vegetation on the so-called serpentine landscape is dramatically different from other plant communities. Serpentinite is a sexy rock. with a mottled color. greenish metamorphic rock that forms by hydration. It gets its name from its resemblance to snakeskin. About. Most people call it serpentine (SER-penteen) or serpentine rock. where oceanic rocks may be preserved. Other galleries: Fossils Geologic Features and Processes Glaciers and Ice Landforms Minerals Rocks Geology and Society Serpentinite Gallery By Andrew Alden. these photos are from California. and serpentine barrens contain many specialized. For more photos see the Serpentinite Gallery or the Metamorphic Rocks Gallery.com Guide See More About: • • metamorphic rocks serpentinite Serpentinite (ser-PEN-tinite) is a heavy. of deep oceanic rocks. Serpentinite can contain chrysotile. Unless otherwise indicated.

nite.Serpenti Serpent Serpenti Serpent nite from 'Earthquake inite from Idria nite Vein. Ring Mountain Beach' Ultramafic Body Berryessa Preserve Verd Serpenti Antique or Serpentine nite Deformation Marble Bastite. Lake Berryessa Sierra Nevada Sierra Nevada Ultramafic Complex Learn the Facts About Serpentinite Before It's Removed as California's State Rock by Brian Romans • August 5th. and Dark Serpentinite. Serpentinitized Pyroxene Serpentinite Vermont Serpenti Light Serpent Serpenti nite Hand Specimen. photo from Brian Romans) . California (sample courtesy of Hannah Scherer. 2010 Serpentinite from the Klamath Mountains. Feather River inite Hand Specimen. Lake inite.

many plants unique to California grow on serpentiniterich soils. To reiterate. not a rock. The recognition and study of serpentinite in California contributed to the understanding of modern plate tectonic theory.” Supporters of the bill include cancer awareness groups and other groups representing those dealing with mesothelioma. While we are all entitled to our own opinions. • Serpentinite has a unique association with California for many reasons including: its association with gold deposits and the resulting California Gold Rush history. the language of which was completely gutted and then amended in April of this year. it is derived from the term that describes the fibrous nature. and others. there is a mineral “chrysotile” that crystallizes into a fibrous material referred to as asbestos but not all varieties of serpentinite contain it. One of the more interesting bits of history I’ve learned following this story is that the original 1965 proclamation of serpentinite as the state rock was motivated by a desire to highlight its economic and commercial importance as a source of mined asbestos. one must inhale the powdered version into their lungs for it to be harmful. • The term “asbestos” does not have a unique mineralogical association.A bill introduced by California State Senator Gloria Romero in February 2009. is that what’s most important here isn’t to maintain serpentinite as the state rock at all costs. a known carcinogen. “serpentine” refers to a group of minerals. as stated in the bill. The final point I’ll make about this issue. being near. However. handling. is because “serpentine contains the deadly mineral chyrsotile asbestos. • The health danger of asbestos is when people breathe the powdered form into their lungs — and not just once or twice. are considered to be the most dangerous form. we are not entitled to our own facts. Some of the mainstream reporting about this bill has failed to communicate that exposure to the rock serpentinite is distinct from exposure to the powdered form of a component mineral that might be in the rock. which is something many other geologists have made as well. • Varieties of asbestos from a completely separate group of minerals. This is an important distinction. the only way a piece of serpentinite might be harmful is if someone hurled a piece at you. In that spirit. As one blogger put it. I think some basic geologic facts are in order: • Firstly. • Serpentinite is a metamorphosed version of rocks that make up oceanic crust after they are incorporated into subduction zones (plate boundaries where oceanic plates are thrust under continental plates). • There is no such mineral as “chrysotile asbestos”. What’s important is that . • Bottom line: walking on. called the amphibole group. The term “serpentinite” is the proper term for the rock that is mostly made up of one or more of the serpentine group minerals. The wording of the bill is such that it’s not surprising there is some confusion and misunderstanding.” Why introduce a bill to the state assembly devoted to removing the state rock? The primary reason. exposure to which increases the risk of cancer mesothelioma. So. the connection between the mining process and harmful effects were discovered thereafter and asbestos mining was banned in California in the 1970s. Supporters of this bill argue that having a rock with an association with harmful derivative materials is inappropriate for a state symbol. but chronically over many years. would “remove serpentine as the state rock and lithologic emblem and would leave the state rock unspecified. why is the issue coming up now? It’s unclear to me. or even eating a piece of serpentinite rock is NOT harmful. the fact that serpentinite is thought to promote slow (and less hazardous) ‘creep’ along faults.

and environmental historian Jon Christensen from the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University. The most likely parent rock for serpentinite is the ultramafic igneous rock peridotite. cut surfaces have a highly polished. such as antigorite. The alteration is particularly important at the sea floor at tectonic plate boundaries.com. A nondescript rock with a dark green to yellow-green color. endemic plants adapted to these chemical conditions. glazed luster and green-black color are characteristic of serpentinite. chrysotile. If the state assembly feels that spending the time and resources to do that isn’t in California’s best interests at this time. Serpentinite is a rare rock type that is developed only in subduction zones. then simply table the bill and deal with it at a later date. . especially on smooth flat surfaces. Minerals in this group are formed by serpentinization. often evolve there. PDF of Senate Bill No. Because serpentinite outcrops form small isolated areas of unusual soil chemistry. and have a greasy or silky feel. It is the state rock of California. less frequently. The glossy. Rock tends to be soft (H 3-5). green.about. commonly with magnetite or.waxed slickness to them. and the microclimates of a particular outcrop. - Serpentinite A rock composed almost entirely of serpentine minerals. The term serpentine is applied to any of a grouping of hydrous magnesium-rich silicate minerals that are typically gray. Luster tends to be dull or waxy. where one tectonic plate is subducted under another. a hydration and metamorphic transformation of ultramafic rock from the Earth's mantle. brucite. Serpentinite is compose of the mineral serpentine which forms as the igneous minerals olivine and pyroxene are subjected to rising temperature and pressure conditions along a subduction plate boundary. usually formed through the hydration of ultramafic rocks. The mafic igneous rocks basalt and gabbro are also possible precursor rocks for serpentinite. The result is the formation of hydrated magnesium-rich minerals. A type of rock that is almost completely composed of serpentine is known as serpentinite. USA. dunites. or white in color. and peridotites in a process known as serpentinization. Also known as serpentine rock. Bay Area science writer Andrew Alden at geology.the proposal deserves a fair and open debate. or lizardite. 624 Much of the information presented in this post comes from the educating and advocacy about this issue by geoscience educator Garry Hayes at his blog Geotripper. Serpentinite can be cut and polished for use as ornamental stone inside buildings. A common rock composed of serpentine minerals. It is a rock comprised of one or more serpentine minerals. often streaked or shot through with veins of other colors.

Serpentinite. sedimentary rock forms in the normal way. the rock’s low levels of calcium and potassium. to the surface of the Earth. The lighter components of the sea floor are scraped up on top of the other plate. which happens mainly on land. protrusions of serpentinite are often quite different from the environment that surrounds them. a tan. and lots of ultramafic rock comes to the surface. gabbro. Indeed. as. in Presidio of San Francisco. serpentinite is a metamorphic rock that is formed from the action of high pressure and heat upon hornblende schists or igneous rocks composed chiefly of mafic minerals. the slippery and easily mobilized serpentinite pops up along fault zones. the Coast Ranges in California. Chemically. there is tremendous hydrostatic pressure. Relatively weak. The layers of younger sedimentary rock that formerly covered this serpentinite have weathered away. so the serpentinite also rises along thrust lines as well. For example. See also: What is Serpentinite? By Carolyn Curtis Serpentine is not a rock. the term that probably makes most sense to use when referring to the rocks and soils at Edgewood. serpentinite rock actually becomes less dense (more buoyant) as water is added. In addition. serpentinite is referred to as ultramafic (Mg + Fe). Serpentinite is also a very plastic and greasy rock that can be easily squeezed into and even lubricate the many faults at plate boundaries. California has many a "Red Hill" and "Red Mountain" as a result. Thus it essentially floats upwards. serpentinites are at the heavy end of the metal spectrum.Associated with subduction zones. such as the serpentinite in the Oakland-Berkeley hills. which is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It then may get dragged or “squirted” to the surface along the faults. or basalt. some plant species have been able to successfully adapt to the unusual characteristics of serpentinite. as well as its significant amounts of such potentially harmful substances as chromium and nickel. results from subduction. in the lateral grooves between ridges in the deep trench off the margin of continents. which can include chrysotile asbestos. can crystallize when it is brought up from the sea floor through the crust of an opposing tectonic plate. the result became the Franciscan formation. For instance. As the sea floor moves up and encounters another plate. would seem to make it an unlikely place for habitation. the parent mineral. The coast ranges are a big compression zone. several endangered species of plants have become acclimatized to life on serpentinite outcrops. The substance is most often found in areas where mountain ranges have formed due to the sealing off of an ocean basin. for example. exposing the serpentinite. . The type of metamorphism known as serpentinization can happen in many ways. Due to its derivation from the Earth’s mantle. In this situation of moving layers. where serpentinite is the official state rock. Because of these elements. However. Serpentinite and peridotite can have a rusty-looking crust because of the oxidation of the iron (magnetite) they contain. blocky mineral. which is known as subduction. but a group of minerals. when olivine and orthopyroxene combine. pressing the Great Valley rocks. buoyed up by the denser rock around it. is a type of metamorphosed sedimentary rock. When the subduction ceases. primarily consist of slices of the ocean’s crust that have been faulted and folded along the coastline. In the process of formation. containing relatively large amounts of magnesium and/or iron. mountains containing high levels of serpentinite may suffer from recurrent landslides and a brisk erosion process. Most serpentinite in California’s inner coastal ranges. the leading edge goes down under the other plate. Many minerals can be transformed into serpentinite. such as peridotite. the Sierra is moving west. such as peridotite. Origin and Distribution The parent rock to serpentinite started out on the sea floor. on the West Coast. where it often forms. For other serpentinites. Scientists do not fully understand how serpentinite makes its way from deep in the Earth.

Taubert L.a. and cobalt. such as calcium. magnesium. Romanian serpentinites are part of the Danubian crystalline complex. Likewise. Hydrochloric attack of serpentinites: Mg2+ leaching from serpentinites. however. Abstract This paper presents the hydrochloric attack of serpentinites.Serpentinite and Vegetation These serpentinite chemical characteristics inhibit plant growth: • • • relative lack of the elements plants need to grow. nickel. potassium. chrome and manganese. drained from adjacent places. Romania. plants growing in serpentinite areas tend not to be tall. Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory. These serpentinites contain mineral serpentine (magnesium silicate) and a small amount of other minerals along with calcium. using different experimental conditions: acid concentrations between 15-23 per cent HCl. others accumulate it. Romanian Academy--Timisoara Branch. For processing. some plants adapt to the concentrations of iron and magnesium by accumulating it. Plant adaptations to low nutrient levels and to aridity look the same. The magnesium in the serpentinite is not buffered because of the lack of calcium there. The cobbles in stream beds near serpentinite areas can be cemented with this calcium. resulting in travertine aprons where native orchids sometimes grow. Plants have adapted to this lack of calcium in serpentinite soil in various ways: some require little calcium. In optimum conditions. . the temperature range of 70-90 degrees C. phosphorus. such as nickel. water comes out all over serpentinite areas. Calcium is highly important for plant growth. but rather the low nutrient levels and dryness of serpentinite areas. so this element comes out in the ground water. the extraction time being up to 180 min. Studies have shown that toxic metals aren't the problem. nitrogen. and other heavy metals. cobalt. A well-balanced processing of these serpentinites looks for both the silica residue utilization and the chloride solutions. the serpentinite was attacked by hydrochloric acid from two provinces (p. which dries up. aluminium. so it is toxic to most plants. with stoichiometric ratio between reactants and with acid excess. that are toxic to most plants lack of water. and residual hydrochloric acid). and trace elements such as molybdenum concentrations of iron. in order to separate the prevalent magnesium as well as the valuable microcomponents--nickel and cobalt. Serpentine seeps are calcareous water. unlike the surrounding sandstone.5 per cent). Most serpentinite areas can have persistent streams and springs. Despite the superficial aridity of serpentinite areas. because serpentinite is so fractured and sheared. iron. the water’s availability is problematic. chromium. the magnesium extraction is almost total (99. lack up buildup of organic matter The crystal structure of serpentine won't allow calcium.

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