Evidence for subsolidus quartz-coesite transformation in impact ejecta from the Australasian tektite strewn fieldOPEN ACCESS 

Fabrizio Campanale, Enrico Mugnaioli, Luigi Folco, Mauro Gemmi, Martin R.Lee, Luke Daly, Billy P.Glass

Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
In Press, Journal Pre-proof, Available online 21 August 2019



• SEM and μRaman analysis reveal coesite plus PDF-bearing quartz intergrowths.
• TEM shows that quartz is in direct contact with euhedral coesite grains.
• These observations indicate solid-state quartz-to-coesite transformation.
• Recurrent iso-orientation with [1-11]* of quartz parallel to [010]* of coesite.
• Martensitic structural shifting of {-1011} quartz planes into coesite (010) planes.”

“Coesite, a high-pressure silica polymorph, is a diagnostic indicator of impact cratering in quartz-bearing target rocks. The formation mechanism of coesite during hypervelocity impacts has been debated since its discovery in impact rocks in the 1960s. Electron diffraction analysis coupled with scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy of shocked silica grains from the Australasian tektite/microtektite strewn field reveals fine-grained intergrowths of coesite plus quartz bearing planar deformation features (PDFs). Quartz and euhedral microcrystalline coesite are in direct contact, showing a recurrent pseudo iso-orientation, with the (111)* vector of quartz near parallel to the [010]* vector of coesite. Moreover, discontinuous planar features in coesite domains are in textural continuity with PDFs in adjacent quartz relicts. These observations indicate that quartz transforms to coesite after PDF formation and through a solid-state martensitic-like process involving a relative structural shift of {1011} quartz planes, which would eventually turn into coesite (010) planes. This process further explains the structural relation observed between the characteristic (010) twinning and disorder of impact-formed coesite, and the {1011} PDF family in quartz. If this mechanism is the main way in which coesite forms in impacts, a re-evaluation of peak shock pressure estimates in quartz-bearing target rocks is required because coesite has been previously considered to form by rapid crystallization from silica melt or diaplectic glass during shock unloading at 30-60 GPa.”