Network analysis of mineralogical systems

1Shaunna M. Morrison et al. (>10)
American Mineralogist 102, 1588-1596 Link to Article [DOI
https://doi.org/10.2138/am-2017-6104CCBYNCND]
1Geophysical Laboratory, Carnegie Institution for Science, 5251 Broad Branch Road NW, Washington, D.C. 20015, U.S.A.
Copyright: The Mineralogical Society of America

A fundamental goal of mineralogy and petrology is the deep understanding of mineral phase relationships and the consequent spatial and temporal patterns of mineral coexistence in rocks, ore bodies, sediments, meteorites, and other natural polycrystalline materials. The multi-dimensional chemical complexity of such mineral assemblages has traditionally led to experimental and theoretical consideration of 2-, 3-, or n-component systems that represent simplified approximations of natural systems. Network analysis provides a dynamic, quantitative, and predictive visualization framework for employing “big data” to explore complex and otherwise hidden higher-dimensional patterns of diversity and distribution in such mineral systems. We introduce and explore applications of mineral network analysis, in which mineral species are represented by nodes, while coexistence of minerals is indicated by lines between nodes. This approach provides a dynamic visualization platform for higher-dimensional analysis of phase relationships, because topologies of equilibrium phase assemblages and pathways of mineral reaction series are embedded within the networks. Mineral networks also facilitate quantitative comparison of lithologies from different planets and moons, the analysis of coexistence patterns simultaneously among hundreds of mineral species and their localities, the exploration of varied paragenetic modes of mineral groups, and investigation of changing patterns of mineral occurrence through deep time. Mineral network analysis, furthermore, represents an effective visual approach to teaching and learning in mineralogy and petrology.

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