Structure and chemistry of the low-pressure silica polymorphs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

68 Scopus citations


This chapter reviews the geological occurrences, structures, and phase transitions of the low-pressure silica polymorphs-quartz, tridymite, and cristobalite. All these phases experience displacive transformations that involve structural contraction with decreased temperature, and research over the past three decades has sought out the mechanisms that control these transitions. The passage from β- to α-quartz is associated with an intermediate phase that is stable over a 1.3 ° C temperature interval. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy have revealed that this phase consists of Dauphin6 microtwins that are incommensurately modulated. Meteoritic and synthetic tridymite experience a series of structural alterations with decreasing temperature during which the symmetry changes from hexagonal (HP) to orthorhombic (OC, OS, and OP) to monoclinic (MC). Phase transition behavior in terrestrial tridymite (PO-n and MX-1) is more complex, probably due to a greater degree of structural disorder. The transformation from cubic β-cristobalite to tetragonal α-cristobalite is marked by a high spontaneous strain and a large hysteresis in the transition temperature. The three high-temperature polymorphs-β-quartz, HP-tridymite, and β-cristobalite-exhibit evidence for dynamical disorder, but the nature of the atomic oscillations in these phases remains an active area of investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSilica
Subtitle of host publicationPhysical Behavior, Geochemistry, and Materials Applications
PublisherDe Gruyter Mouton
Number of pages40
ISBN (Electronic)9781501509698
ISBN (Print)0939950359, 9780939950355
StatePublished - Feb 21 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Structure and chemistry of the low-pressure silica polymorphs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this