Electron-Probe Micro-Analysis of the Iron-Titanium Oxides in Some New Zealand Ironsands

J. B. Wright and J. F. Lovering
Geology Department, Otago University, New Zealand
Geophysics Department, Australian National University, Canberra

Summary: The electron probe was used to analyse for Fe, Ti, Mg, Al, and Mn. Vanadium could not be determined because of interference from Ti. Calcium was shown to be present only in inclusions of apatite and silicate; it does not oceur in the titanomagnetite structure.

Homogeneous grains (magnetite-ulvöspinel solid solutions) do not vary greatly in bulk composition, averaging close to 61% Fe and 8 % TiO2. Inhomogeneous grains contain variable amounts of hematite-ilmenite lamellae produced by progressive oxidation of the homogeneous grains. In the early stages there is rapid build-up of titanium in the rhombohedral lamellae, which are initially relatively poor in iron. As oxidation proceeds the almost titanium-free cubic phase becomes strongly enriched in magnesium, aluminium, and manganese, while the iron: titanium ratio in the rhombohedral phase increases. The end-product may be a homogeneous titanhematite, if initial concentrations of Mg, Al, and Mn are low. Otherwise residuals of a relatively iron-poor almost titanium-free (Mg, Al, Mn)-enriched cubic phase remain in the titanhematite. The behaviour of iron and titanium agrees with recent synthetic work in the system. Some of the oxidized grains contain transparent spinel lamellae exsolved from the cubic phase. Exsolution may commence at different stages in the oxidation process, but the reason is not clear—there are no significant differences in the composition of phases with and without spinel lamellae.

Analyses and normative compositions are presented for the different phases in each grain, where possible. The compositional changes accompanying oxidation satisfactorily explain the slope of the thermomagnetic curves : there is no need to invoke bulk compositional variations within a given ironsand sample.

Samples from an ilmenite and a non-titaniferous magnetite concentrate were also briefly examined.

Mineralogical Magazine; December 1965 v. 35; no. 272; p. 604-621; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1965.035.272.04
© 1965, The Mineralogical Society
Mineralogical Society (www.minersoc.org)