Mountkeithite, a New Pyroaurite-Related Mineral with an Expanded Interlayer Containing Exchangeable MgSO4

D. R. Hudson and M. Bussell
CSIRO, Division of Mineralogy, Floreat Park, Western Australia, 6014

Abstract: Mountkeithite [(Mg,Ni)9(Fe3+,Cr,Al)3(OH)24]3+[(CO{in3,SO4)1.5(Mg,Ni)2(SO4)2(H2O)11]3− occurs with pyrite, magnetite, magnesite, hexahydrite, and morenosite in a low-temperature hydrothermal vein system in the Mount Keith disseminated nickel sulphide deposit, Western Australia. Electron-microprobe analyses gave the following average composition: MgO 31.7, NiO 6.1, CuO 0.1, Cr2O3 6.1, Fe2O3 8.3, Al2O3 2.6, SO3 14.7; microanalysis for C and H gave CO2 3.9, H2O 30.6; total 104.1. The X-ray powder diffraction pattern has the following strongest lines: 11.30(10), 5.63(8), 4.63(2), 3.765(6), 2.645(4), 2.545(4), 1.554(5), and 1.505(3); these can be indexed on a hexagonal cell with a = 10.698 Å, c = 22.545 Å.

Mountkeithite occurs as friable aggregates and rosettes composed of soft, pearly to translucent, pale pink to white flakes with perfect basal cleavage. Optical properties are uniaxial negative with ɛ = 1.51 and ω = 1.52; weakly dichroic from colourless to palest pink. Specific gravity is 2.12 (calc. 1.95). Mountkeithite is soluble, with efferves-cence, in dilute HCl. Mountkeithite changes to a pyroaurite-like phase, with a 7.8.Å basal spacing when immersed in water, but can be changed back to an 11.3 Å phase by immersion in 1M MgSO4; mountkeithite also collapses to a 7.8 Å basal spacing under vacuum. Phases similar to mountkeithite have been synthesized by immersing grains of stichtite in 1M MgSO4, at 20, 50, 105, and 200°C.

The structure ofmountkeithite is interpreted as consisting of positively charged brucite-like hydroxyl layers, containing both divalent and trivalent cations, separated by about 7 Å-thick, negatively charged interlayers containing carbonate and sulphate anions, magnesium sulphate, and water. Carrboydite, motukoreaite, and hydrohonessite are minerals with similarly large basal spacings of 10–11 Å, and are also believed to have pyroaurite-related structures with expanded interlayers.

Mineralogical Magazine; September 1981 v. 44; no. 335; p. 345-350; DOI: 10.1180/minmag.1981.044.335.16
© 1981, The Mineralogical Society
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