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Trepmann, Claudia A.; Dellefant, Fabian; Kaliwoda, Melanie; Hess, Kai-Uwe; Schmahl, Wolfgang W.; Hoelzl, Stefan (November 2020): Quartz and cristobalite ballen in impact melt rocks from the Ries impact structure, Germany, formed by dehydration of shock-generated amorphous phases. In: Meteoritics & Planetary Science, Vol. 55, No. 11: pp. 2360-2374
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Quartz and cristobalite ballen aggregates surrounded by dendritic cristobalite in gneiss clasts of impact melt rocks from the Ries impact structure are analyzed by Raman spectroscopy, microscopy, and electron backscattered diffraction to elucidate the development of the characteristic polycrystalline ballen that are defined by curved interfaces between each other. We suggest that the investigated ballen aggregates represent former fluid inclusion-rich quartz grains from the granitic gneiss protolith. Upon shock loading, they transformed into an amorphous phase that partly retained information on the precursor structure. Volatiles from inclusions dissolved into the amorphous phase. During decompression and cooling, dehydration takes place and causes fracturing of the amorphous phase and disintegration into small globular ballen, with the fluid being expelled along the fractures. A similar formation of small globules due to dehydration of silica-rich glass is known for perlitic structures of volcanic rocks. Remnants of the precursor structure are present in the amorphous phase and enabled topotactic crystallization of quartz, leading to a crystallographic preferred orientation. Crystallization of more distorted parts of the amorphous phase led to random orientations of the quartz crystals. Ballen comprised of cristobalite formed from a dehydrated amorphous phase with no structural memory of the precursor. Dendritic cristobalite exclusively occurring at the rim of quartz ballen aggregate is interpreted to have crystallized directly from a melt enriched in fluids that were expelled during dehydration of the amorphous phase.