Chemical Analysis of Olivines by the Electron Microprobe

J. V. Smith and R. C. Stenstrom
Department of the Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois, U.S.A.

Summary: Thirty-one natural olivines, of which 25 had been previously analysed by wet chemical methods, have been analysed for Mg, Fe, Mn, Ca, Ni, and Co by electron-microprobe techniques. The totals of the olivine molecules Fo, Fa, etc., calculated from the above metals vary from 97·6 to 101·5 with a mean of 99·6%. Twenty-one of the specimens had been used previously by Yoder and Sahama to prepare a determinative curve between mole per cent. Fo and the lattice spacing d130. Yoder and Sahama had found that the data for natural olivines showed large random displacements from a straight line, and that the best straight line deviated for low Fo values from that for synthetic olivines. A plot of Fo determined from the microprobe vs. d130 corrected for lattice expansion caused by Ca and Mn shows no systematic deviation between natural and synthetic specimens, and only small deviations from the best continuous curve (maximum 4% in Fo assuming no error in d130). The maximum contents found for Mn, Ca, Ni, and Co were 3·2, 0·54, 0·33, and 0·03%, respectively. For these minor constituents, some of the wet chemical analyses agreed very well with the microprobe results while others showed large deviations. Although the substitution of Ca is small, it can affect considerably the determination of mole per cent. Fo from d130.

After specimen preparation and calibration have been carried out, microprobe analyses for most major and minor (but not trace) elements in common silicates can be made with an accuracy of about 0·5 to 5% of the amount present in about one minute for each group of three elements. Although standard chemical methods applied to large homogeneous samples will retain their fundamental reference value, microprobe techniques with their high spatial resolution, relative freedom from contamination problems, high speed, and moderate to good accuracy promise to revolutionize analytical programmes in mineralogy and petrology.

Mineralogical Magazine; 1965 v. 34; no. 268; p. 436-459; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1965.034.268.39
© 1965, The Mineralogical Society
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