- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The large number of mica species (end-members) and varieties is based on chemical variability and peculiar structural features like polytypism, local and global symmetry. In addition, mainly because of an inherent misfit between the constituent tetrahedral and octahedral sheets, in the specific mica structures several structural parameters undergo adjustments relative to their ideal values. Consequently, the mechanisms ruling distortions from ideal models must be considered when investigating a mica behavior under geological conditions.
Micas are important rock-forming minerals and petrographers consider them mainly for their chemical aspects. The importance of the chemical composition is well known to all researchers dealing with minerals. To give emphasis to the chemical composition, the official classification of the micas (Rieder et al. 1998; Rieder 2001) allows exceptions (note the introduction of ‘species that are not end member’ in Rieder et al. 1998) to the rules which are normally used to define mineral species (Nickel and Grice 1998). However, as shown throughout this book, the role of structure features (including some aspects of polytypism) in determining fields of stability of micas and, therefore, in providing geological insights, is increasingly recognized as crucial. Thus, it seems justified that a chapter dedicated to the description of the general structural background of micas should be presented independently from specific cases, which are discussed in other chapters.
This chapter is an introduction to the symmetry and geometric aspects of micas. Nevertheless, some less conventional topics not covered in other chapters are reported in appendices. Appendix I concerns the wide presence of mica-like modules in the growing group of natural, layer titanosilicates (Khomyakov 1995; Ferraris et al. 2001b, d) and other more or less exotic structures belonging to the expanding field of modular crystallography (Merlino 1997). Important results have been obtained by the oblique-texture electron diffraction method …