Relationships between radiation damage and trace water

 in zircon, quartz, and topaz

Roger D. Aines and George R. Rossman
Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA  91125, USA


The presence of trace amounts of water or hyroxide ion can dramatically affect the response of a mineral to radiation from both internal and external sources. In zircon, where radioactive decay of U causes structural damage (metamictization), water can enter the structure after a threshold of damage is reached and stabilize the metamict state by annealing local charge imbalance. Quartz crystals with both amethyst and citrine zones have molecular water in the citrine zones and dominantly hydroxide ion in the amethyst zones. This may be due to the reduction of the amethyst Fe(IV) color center by atomic H formed by radiolysis of the water. lntopaz, special hydroxide sites correlate with the formation of a brown color center. The crystallographically identified hydroxyl on the (OH,D site does not appear to be correlated with radiation damage. The mobility of H and the ease with which H-O species may be formed in silicates appear to explain much of the role of hydrous species in radiation-damage processes in minerals. These species occur in several charge states and may anneal local charge imbalance. The occurrence of trace amounts of water in even nominally anhydrous minerals makes this interaction common.