Greisen - Encyclopedia

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GREISEN (in French, hyalomicte), a modification of granite, consisting essentially of quartz and white mica, and distinguished from granite by the absence of felspar and biotite. In the hand specimen the rock has a silvery glittering appearance from the abundance of lamellar crystals of muscovite, but many greisens have much of the appearance of granite, except that they are paler in colour. The commonest accessory minerals are tourmaline, topaz, apatite, fluorspar and iron oxides; a little felspar more or less altered may also be present and a brown mica which is biotite or lithionite. The tourmaline in section is brown, green, blue or colourless, and often the same crystal shows many different tints. The white mica forms mostly large plates with imperfect crystalline outlines. The quartz is rich in fluid enclosures. Apatite and topaz are both colourless and of irregular form. Felspar if present may be orthoclase and oligoclase.

Greisen occurs typically in belts or veins intersecting granite. At the centre of each vein there is usually a fissure which may be open or filled with quartz. The greisen bands are from I in. up to 2 ft. or more in thickness. At their outer edges they pass gradually into the granite, for they contain felspar crystals more or less completely altered into aggregates of white mica and quartz. The transition between the two rocks is perfectly gradual, a fact which shows that the greisen has been produced by alteration of the granite. Vapours or fluids rising through the fissure have been the agents which effected the transmutation. They must have contained fluorine, boron and probably also lithium, for topaz, mica and tourmaline, the new minerals of the granite, contain these elements. The change is a post-volcanic xlr. 19 or pneumatolytic one induced by the vapours set free by the granite magma when it cools. Probably the rock was at a relatively high temperature at the time. A similar type of alteration, the development of white mica, quartz and tourmaline, is found sometimes in sedimentary rocks around granite masses. Greisen is closely connected with schorl rock both in its mineralogical composition and in its mode of origin. The latter is a pneumatolytic product consisting of quartz and tourmaline; it often contains white mica and thus passes by all stages into greisen. Both of these rocks carry frequently small percentages of tin oxide (cassiterite) and may be worked as ores of tin. They are common in Cornwall, Saxony, Tasmania and other districts which are centres of tin-mining. Many other greisens occur in which no tin is found. The analyses show the composition of Cornish granite and greisen. They make it clear that there has been an introduction of fluorine and boron and a diminution in the alkalies during the transformation of the granitic rock into the greisen. (J. S. F.)

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