Microscopy and Cathodoluminescence Spectroscopy Characterization of Quartz Exhibiting Different Alkali-Silica Reaction Potential

Microsc Microanal. 2016 Feb;22(1):189-98. doi: 10.1017/S1431927615015524. Epub 2016 Jan 21.


Different quartz types from several localities in the Czech Republic and Sweden were examined by polarizing microscopy combined with cathodoluminescence (CL) microscopy, spectroscopy, and petrographic image analysis, and tested by use of an accelerated mortar bar test (following ASTM C1260). The highest alkali-silica reaction potential was indicated by very fine-grained chert, containing significant amounts of fine-grained to cryptocrystalline matrix. The chert exhibited a dark red CL emission band at ~640 nm with a low intensity. Fine-grained orthoquartzites, as well as fine-grained metamorphic vein quartz, separated from phyllite exhibited medium expansion values. The orthoquartzites showed various CL of quartz grains, from blue through violet, red, and brown. Two CL spectral bands at ~450 and ~630 nm, with various intensities, were detected. The quartz from phyllite displayed an inhomogeneous dark red CL with two CL spectral bands of low intensities at ~460 and ~640 nm. The massive coarse-grained pegmatite quartz from pegmatite was assessed to be nonreactive and displayed a typical short-lived blue CL (~480 nm). The higher reactivity of the fine-grained hydrothermal quartz may be connected with high concentrations of defect centers, and probably with amorphized micro-regions in the quartz, respectively; indicated by a yellow CL emission (~570 nm).

Keywords: CL microscopy; alkali–silica reaction; image analysis; quartz.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alkalies / analysis*
  • Czech Republic
  • Microscopy, Polarization*
  • Quartz / chemistry*
  • Silicon Dioxide / analysis*
  • Spectrum Analysis*
  • Sweden


  • Alkalies
  • Quartz
  • Silicon Dioxide