- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The study of preferred orientation of minerals in rocks dates back to Omalius d’Halloy (1833) who attributes a special significance to the alignment of crystals as an indicator of the formation process. Much later the influence of crystal alignment on physical properties was quantified (e.g., Weissenberg 1922, Voigt 1928, Reuss 1929). Only recently has this field emerged as a coherent part of earth science research linking such branches as mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, geodynamics and seismology. The reason for this was the emergence of quantitative methods to analyze preferred orientation, or “texture” as it was first called by Naumann (1850). These methods were largely developed in collaboration with materials science and mechanics. Quantitative measurements, detailed field studies, rigorous data analysis, theories to predict textures, and improvements in characterizing seismic anisotropy in the Earth are leading to a coherent picture that is now being refined.
Though seismologists have long accepted that there is a causal relationship between anisotropic propagation of seismic waves, the deformation field and crystal orientation, the prevailing view is still largely the mythological concept that seismic fast directions align with the flow direction. While this may be approximately the case for olivine deformed under certain conditions, it is certainly no universal law, as we will try to illustrate in this review. The “fast” direction of a crystal depends on the mineral species and its crystal structure. The alignment of crystals depends on microscopic, intra-crystalline deformation systems and the deformation history. Both relationships are complex and not intuitive, but there are well-established theories to compute single crystal physical properties as well as orientation patterns. Simulations can be compared with experimental data and then applied with some caution to the macroscopic Earth.
This review is intended to provide a brief introduction, highlighting some of the issues with …