Selected Article


Atomistic calculations of structural and elastic properties of serpentine minerals: the case of lizardite.


The physical properties of the hydrous phyllosilicate lizardite have been investigated by atomistic simulation using the GULP code based on transferable semi-empirical interatomic potentials. Lizardite behavior was first investigated during structure relaxation at room temperature. The Helmholtz free energy is minimum for an equilibrium structure that is in agreement with experiment. The bulk, shear, and Young modulii for lizardite were calculated along with the Poisson ratio. From the shear and bulk modulii, we also calculated translational and longitudinal acoustic wave velocities that are important quantities for tectonophysics models. As expected, lizardite is stiffer in the a direction parallel to the layers than in the c perpendicular direction; the variation of the unit cell parameters with pressure is in good agreement with experiment. The cohesive energy between two successive layers along c direction was calculated at 0.33 eV (i.e., 0.11 eV per OH bond) in good agreement with recent ab initio calculations. Upon pressure and temperature variations, we evidenced that structural changes are mainly pressure induced; pressure being accommodated by a decrease of the c parameter up to 10 GPa. We also found that the change of slope in the derivative of the c cell parameter with respect to pressure occurring around 2 GPa originates from the bending of the interlayer hydroxyl groups with respect to the layer normal direction.