Crystal chemistry of the jarosite group of minerals - solid solution and atomic structures

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Basciano, Laurel C.
Jarosite , Solid solution , Rietveld refinement , X-ray diffraction
The jarosite group of minerals is part of the alunite supergroup, which consists of more than 40 different mineral species that have the general formula AB3(TO4)2(OH, H2O)6. There is extensive solid-solution in the A, B and T sites within the alunite supergroup. Jarosite group minerals are common in acid mine waste and there is evidence of jarosite existing on Mars. Members of the jarosite - natrojarosite – hydronium jarosite (K,Na, H3O)Fe3(SO4)2(OH)6 solid-solution series were synthesized and investigated by Rietveld analysis of X-ray powder diffraction data. The synthesized samples have full iron occupancy, where in many previous studies there was significant vacancies in the B site. Well-defined trends can be seen in the unit cell parameters, bond lengths A – O and Fe - O across the solid-solution series in the synthetic samples. Based on unit cell parameters many natural samples appear to have full iron occupancy and correlate well with the synthetic samples from this study. In addition, the infrared spectra of the samples were analyzed. The atomic structure of ammoniojarosite, (NH4)Fe3(SO4)2(OH)6, has been solved using single-crystal X-ray diffraction to wR 3.64% and R 1.4%. The atomic coordinates of the hydrogen atoms of the NH4 group have been located and it was found that the ammonium group has two different orientations with equal probability. Samples in the ammoniojarosite – hydronium jarosite solid-solution series were synthesized and analyzed using powder X-ray diffraction and Rietveld refinement. It was found that an incomplete solid-solution series exists between jarosite and plumbojarosite, Pb[Fe3(SO4)2(OH)6]2, based on experimental and mineralogical data. At the studied synthesis conditions, lead solubility in jarosite is extremely limited with occupancy of 2% in the potassium site. Increased Pb in the iv starting solution resulted in no increased substitution of Pb into jarosite, but an increased substitution of H3O+. The stable isotope (H) geochemistry of hydronium jarosite, (H3O,K)Fe3(SO4)2(O,OH)6, and the effect that the presence of hydronium in the crystal structure has on exchange rates of stable isotope values of jarosite with hydronium substitution has been investigated in this study.
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